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Basic Common Sense

Working in agriculture is all about open air business management. Spring arrived and brought frost at the end of May that damaged crops in several regions in Quebec. And as I write these lines, drought has also done its share of damages. I’ve said it before, Mother Nature always has the last word. And this year is no different.

Since we’re talking about the year, July 2021 marks the end of the Year of the Plant as proclaimed by the United Nations. According to this organisation, it was “an unprecedented opportunity to raise awareness of world opinion as to how protecting plant health can help eliminate hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment and encourage economic development.” 

Proposals were submitted to mitigate the risks associated to plant pests, particularly when achieving the sustainable development goals established by the United Nations in its 2030 Agenda. Goals that Sollio Cooperative Group fully adheres to, particularly the one goal that is to have Zero Hunger.  

Taking care of plant health requires expertise, discipline and innovation. There’s no improvisation involved. Organisations like ours have a leadership role to play in this respect. Our investments and the advice we provide to agricultural businesses, through the network’s agronomists and technicians, focuses exactly on this objective.  

However, nothing is ever perfect. We are all seeking to reduce our environmental footprint. And some agricultural practices appear unsettling, such as the use of pesticides for example. This perception is ongoing and we need to take it into consideration and improve our methods and how we work. The status quo, we can all agree, is no longer sustainable and that’s why the Agrologist Act is currently under review. We need to avoid getting divided. We need to adopt a unifying discourse. Let’s work together. 

The purpose of the expert-consultants (agronomists and technologists) who work with our producer members and cooperative owners is not to sell them products they don’t need or want. This would be counterproductive and unethical; such is not the case. We remain accountable for our actions, we are people of integrity and transparent. And integrity is, for us, far above profitability. The cooperative business model we’ve chosen, works. First and foremost, it was developed to support our member producers, to meet their needs – thanks more specifically to the transmission of knowledge and innovation – and to implement our value chains. 

The recommendations our agronomists and technologists propose are based on precisions analyses. We aren’t fools. Their recommendations are debated and questioned, if necessary. In the end, they are either accepted or rejected. Mother Nature did not have the last word this time, we did! We are trained and informed business managers and the sustainability of our operations is at the core of our concerns; it is, for the majority, what we wish for, to transfer our businesses to a next generation that is just as motivated and passionate.

Every kind of agriculture (niche, organic, proximity or traditional) is necessary to respond to each producer’s expectations and meet the challenge that consists of feeding a growing population within increasingly volatile climate conditions. The solution to meeting this challenge undoubtedly passes through scientific advances and technology: Quality advice from agronomists, new generations of biotechnology, automation, development of applications and tools to help in the decision-making process using artificial intelligence. 

In fact, we cannot have the luxury of going without the private sector’s agronomists and technologies since they represent nearly half of all experts actively working with agricultural producers. Our specialists are basically the driving strength of knowledge. And cooperatives need to be at the heart of the thought process that will lead to determining the best model possible for producers

Enjoy the summer!

Ghislain Gervais - président