By David Kuypers, Head, Data and Commercial Operations, and Ravi Ramachandran, Head, Research and Development, Syngenta Canada
Black History Month is a time to not only celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians, but to raise awareness of ongoing challenges and encourage change.
Between March 2020 and March 2022, seven million Canadians reported going hungry. Almost one in four (23%) ate less than they felt they should because there wasn’t enough money for food. A closer look at the numbers shows this statistic jumps to 43% for Black householdsi. This is a staggering disparity that requires a solution. As with all complex issues, there is not one answer – it will require the efforts of many.
What role can Canadian agriculture and Syngenta play in helping to alleviate food insecurity for Black Canadians?
Being part of a science-based agtech company, we’re proud to develop crop technologies that enable farmers to efficiently produce safe and plentiful food and tackle the challenge of feeding a growing global population. These advancements help improve food availability and affordability, but they don’t equate to food security for all.
Examining our role towards a solution
As individuals, we need to speak up and advocate for an inclusive society. Companies like Syngenta can make a difference by committing to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the workplace. All too often, members of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities struggle to establish their professional careers due to systemic bias, stereotyping, and remnants of historical actions at all levels of society. We need to drive for a system that provides fair opportunities and recognizes the diverse experience of all communities.
At Syngenta, our ambition is that Canadian agriculture will continue to be more inclusive of those who do not come from traditional agricultural backgrounds. By expanding to involve disciplines such as chemistry, data science, supply chain, robotics, and artificial intelligence will result in more opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds to contribute to Canadian agriculture and impact global food security.
Advocating for BIPOC talent to consider a career in agriculture is another way to be more inclusive. Organizations like the Canadian Black Scientists Network (CBSN) are working to increase Black representation in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) careers. South of the border, the MANRRS organization has a mission to promote academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences.
The agriculture community can also show support by embracing Black Canadian families who are trying to establish themselves as farmers in Canada’s predominantly white farming community. The Prince family in southwestern Ontario and the Ferron family in New Brunswick are two successful examples to inspire others.
Our call to action is for organizations within Canadian agriculture to increase their commitment to EDI. Our industry is making progress, but there is much more work to be done. Fully embracing EDI will enable us to unlock the potential of Canadian agriculture and help to close the food security divide for Black Canadians.
iFood Banks Canada