The Prince Edward Island AgriFood Alliance was established in October 2009 in response to one of the recommendations that came from the Commission on the Future of Agriculture and Agri-Food on Prince Edward Island report released last spring.
The PEI AgriFood Alliance Inc. (AFA) is a not-for-profit organization with an industry-led board of directors. The Board Members are individuals of high industry credibility and personal integrity representing the essential partners in the agri-food system, including producers, processors, research agencies, government agencies, and community members.
The role of the AgriFood Alliance is to coordinate, facilitate, and monitor the implementation of the recommendations for the Commission on Agriculture report, and to facilitate the development and implementation of multi-partner strategies and initiatives that will build the Island’s agriculture and agri-food economy.
Tyson MacInnis is the Chief Operating Officer. Staff support is provided by the PEI BioAlliance, an organization with a similar mandate that is working to build the province’s bioscience industry. The operating model of the PEI AgriFood Alliance is to maintain a small core staff and access to specific professional industry experts as required to support various initiatives of the organization and its industry partners.
In accordance with the Commission’s direction, the PEI AgriFood Alliance is focused on developing and assisting higher value market opportunities for producers. “To assist with these efforts, the PEI AgriFood Alliance will provide prospective agrientrepreneurs with professional agri-business mentoring, business plan assessment, and commercialization support; and work collaboratively with leading producers, processors, farm groups, government, research, and market partners to identify and develop profitable markets for PEI-based agriculture products that can gain competitive advantage,” says MacInnis.
“As the pace of change continues to accelerate, new opportunities will emerge for PEI Agriculture. Beyond identifying opportunities in traditional markets, PEI should do a better job of connecting to potential opportunities in fields such as health ingredients, industrial products, and renewable energy to help diversify and increase the profitability of the sector,” says MacInnis.
Recent developments, such as the Natures Crops International (NCI) investment in Kensington provides a glimpse of a new market opportunity that PEI was largely unaware of 18 months ago and holds the promise of providing solid and secure returns for Prince Edward Island growers. NCI contracts for specialty oilseed crops that will be processed in their Kensington biorefinery, supplying established cosmetic ingredients, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical markets.
The PEI AgriFood Alliance will facilitate the coordination of research necessary to respond to new market opportunities, and organize the skilled human resources to ensure successful implementation of key market initiatives. The PEI AgriFood Alliance will work with PEI partners to communicate the strengths of the PEI agriculture and agri-food sector to new markets.
Since its inception in October 2009, the AgriFood Alliance has been active in laying the groundwork with its industry partners for market intelligence and new market development efforts, and has acted as the coordinating body for PEI’s participation in several regional and national research and development proposals.
The Prince Edward Island AgriFood Alliance is committed to maintaining open and regular communications with industry partners, meeting several times per year with industry groups to ensure alignment of efforts, set shared priorities and build and strengthen the relationships necessary for success of the sector.