March 1, 2023
From February 23-24, approximately 75 people participated in the first annual Grow NWT conference hosted by the Territorial Agri-foods Association (TAA) which was supported in part by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.
Participants came from all regions of the NWT, representing a wide range of agri-food enterprises, including small businesses, community-based initiatives, Indigenous governments, and non-governmental organizations.
Minister Wawzonek congratulated those in attendance for their contribution to improving food security in the NWT.
“All of you are contributing to improved northern food security, healthy food access and local food access which is good news for our environment as well as our health,” she noted. “Having access to local, healthy food options and products is such a benefit to our communities and I want to thank you - not only for the end products - but for the inspiration and support you provide to one another and to those looking for participate in agriculture at whatever scale.”
Minister Wawzonek also took this opportunity to highlight the new Sustainable Canadian Agriculture Partnership that will take effect on April 1st , 2023, between the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada.
“Nationally, the new agreement will continue to provide strong support for science, research, and innovation; to address challenges and seize opportunities, to open new markets for Canadian agricultural products, and strengthen the resiliency of the food system. It will also focus on encouraging greater diversity and inclusion and strengthening relationships with Indigenous Peoples, she said.”
Approximately $5.6 million has been invested in the NWT agriculture sector under the existing Partnership signed in 2018.
The new agreement will see a 25 percent increase in available funding across Canada. Priorities for the new agreement will include the sustainability of the agri-food sector and the integration of Indigenous food systems into the programming.
Delegates shared an excitement about the diversity of the sector and opportunities for innovation in the NWT.
Other common subjects raised by participants included:
- access to land or space for food production;
- concerns about costs - from power and utility costs to transportation costs, to taxes;
- regulatory clarity;
- market development – both within the NWT and beyond;
- including wild-harvested foods;
- the importance of mentorship for successful business and community-based agri-food initiatives;
- education and extension services to support emerging businesses/initiatives; and the
- significance of integrating the agri-food goals of food security and livelihood strategies.
In its 2019-2023 Mandate, the Government of the Northwest Territories committed to increasing economic diversification by supporting growth in non-extractive sectors such as agriculture and Increasing food security through locally produced, harvested, and affordable food.