Canada becoming more important in global food security, says AGT’s Al-Katib

Murad Al-Katib and Shaun Haney at Canada’s Ag Day 2024

Canada has what the world needs: abundant food and food ingredients. More importantly, Canada has what much of the world lacks — good arable land, clean water, and stability.

Murad Al-Katib, president and CEO of AGT Food and Ingredients, based at Regina, is well versed in moving commodities and food products around the world. In his eyes, Canada’s role in the global food supply is only going to grow.

“As world economies growing, our economy is not growing as fast. We need something to make sure we’re very relevant and food, and agriculture is really that key weapon, you know, that Canada has. So we’re a societal solution to that food insecurity,” he says.

Al-Katib is proud of what his company has accomplished, providing humanitarian aid through refugee relief programs overseas, and this work has shaped his view as Canada as a societal provider — providing some food stability in uncertain times.

That said, agriculture is highly political, and Canada has to be savvy in navigating its own policy challenges as well as managing the protectionist and less-certain trade regimes of other countries.

“The key for Canada is to have a diversified set of markets,” Al-Katib says. “We can’t be so reliant only on China and India as major markets for our agricultural commodities; we have to have a basket, so that if one large country pulls out, we have to have another way to access that market.” (more below)

Al-Katib says that, politically in Canada, there’s a recognition that agriculture is a sector that is delivering immediate economic growth and opportunity for Canada. But there are some key hurdles that can be overcome, but require more of a commitment to what agriculture can be, even through the “climate lens.”

As we look at the new “green, clean” economy, he says, agriculture is a major polluter, but we’re also society’s solution to climate change.  Not only is Canada a societal solution to food security, he says, we’re also a societal model for climate change and sustainability.

“If I was Prime Minister for a day, I would invest $100 billion over the next three or four years to improve the trade infrastructure of Canada, because we have to move goods to market. And when we look at, you know, the western Canadian economy, agriculture, critical minerals, and the energy sector are major drivers of the overall economic well being of all Canadians, not just those of us in Western Canada,” he says.

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