Innovation, Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability in Canada

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The Canadian food and agriculture sector is for the most part competitive and export-oriented: although challenges and opportunities vary significantly between regions, primary agriculture benefits from an abundance of natural resources and faces limited environmental constraints. Negative environmental impacts of agriculture relate mainly to local water pollution by agricultural nutrients. Productivity growth, resulting from innovation and structural change, has driven production and income growth without significantly increasing pressure on resource use. Nonetheless, the capacity to innovate is crucial to take advantage of the growing and changing demand for food and agricultural products at the global level.

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The Canadian Agricultural Innovation System

This chapter outlines the role of a well-functioning agricultural innovation system in ensuring good use of public funds, and higher responsiveness to the needs of ‘innovation consumers’ through improved collaboration between public and private participants, including across national borders. A well-functioning agricultural innovation system is key to improving the economic, environmental and social performance of the food and agriculture sector. The long-term positive impact of agricultural R&D on productivity growth is well established, and technologies and practices can help improve the sustainability of natural resource use.

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