With the increase in population, climate change, and resource depletion, the need for sustainable practices and developments is becoming more crucial to everyone being affected. From large farming grocery chains, to local farmers, and community gardeners, it is imperative that we all play a part in promoting connective, helpful, sustainable ecosystems.
But what does sustainability mean? What does that look like in the industry and community? With Nuleaf, a leading innovator in creating and promoting sustainable practices, we can begin the discussion around what exactly is 'sustainability'.
In a preview into the webinar, Ryan Wright, the CEO & Co-Founder of Nuleaf, answers some questions.
Q: Concerning the agriculture industry, what does sustainability mean to you? What does 'sustainability' look like on a larger or smaller scale?
A: " To me sustainability is a result of NuLeaf three pillars. Food Security, Economic Development and Environmental Stewardship. The world needs new solutions if we are going to feed our growing population. This means that farmers need to produce more food, with less resources. In addition to this, we need to make farming profitable (without the use of subsidies) to sustain existing businesses and attract new entrepreneurs. "
Q: What is your advice to the public and what can they do to help support 'sustainability' in their communities?
A: " Most of say we care about sustainability, but very few of us actually take any meaningful action. If we care about a sustainable food source the public needs to change their buying habits. Everybody has heard about the importance of “buying local” and many grocery retailers will carry products that are made locally. However, what is not very well understood is the value of this model to the farmer. Retailers continue to squeeze many farmers/food producers while their input costs continue to rise. While there has certainly been a significant increases in the price of food at the grocery store, this is most often well short of the increases the producers experience. Resulting in falling margins and decreased profitability. If the consumer wants to have a real impact in “buying local” more work should be done supporting CSA’s (community Supported Agriculture Programs) where goods are purchased directly from the producer. This often results in lower prices and better product to the consumer while increasing margins for producers so they can expand and invest further into sustainable practices. "
Q: Without giving too much away, what exactly is Agtech and to what extent do you see its role in the future?
A: " Agtech is simply technology applied to the agriculture sector. This can come in many shapes and sizes ranging from indoor farms, to drones surveying farmer fields, to robots milking cows. Agtech will play a larger and larger role in the future as the world looks for new ways to produce roughly 70% more food than we do today by 2050 with fewer resources and farmers. "
Q: In your opinion, why is the work you do important?
A: " If we want to live in a sustainable and secure future, we need to figure out how we’re going to feed a hungry planet and we need to figure this out soon. We need many people, across diverse backgrounds in technology and agriculture, and finance to solve some of modern civilizations biggest challenges. Without these pioneers, famines will grow, resources will be further depleted and large governments/corporations will control everything you put in your body. "
Q: What challenges have you faced?
A: " Biggest challenges has been a lack of support and government bureaucracy. From permitting, to funding to regulatory hurdles, the people often calling for sustainable food systems the loudest are often the organizations that delay or prevent innovation and solutions from happening. As a result, this causes significant costs due to delays and hurdles which can jeopardize project investors or stakeholders commitments. "
It is easy to imagine a future of good but much harder to acknowledge the role we must play in order to attain the prosperity we desire. It is difficult to breakdown the progress towards good into conceivable steps that the average citizen can do, but being open to a discussion and sharing of ideas that will open more doors and minds to a collective of sustainability.
Author: Chelsea Tolentino
Chelsea Tolentino is the Project Assistant at the Centre for Social Impact Technology, and is currently a Computer Science student at Athabasca University.
“When I first broke into the tech industry, it was at the recommendation of a friend. I hadn’t the faintest idea of the career paths that were under the umbrella of ‘tech’ and had no idea how to even get a foot through the door. I was incredibly lucky to have someone recommend a boot camp, which led me to start teaching myself the basics, and getting started on some projects.
I’ve always had an affinity for creativity and designing. This is why putting in the effort to organize and code web pages and projects as a career has brought forth a sense of satisfaction that I was previously missing
Even with the support system that I have around me, I understand the hesitation that one might feel when jumping into an entirely new industry. One might ask: “Where do I even begin?” “Is there anyone, or anyplace that will help me?”, all of which are completely valid inquiries.
Here at the Centre for Social Impact Technology, I’m hoping that those who are interested in, or even curious, about the various tech branches, are able to get a better understanding of what exactly they are stepping into along with the necessary support they might need.”