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Introduction TCME November 2010

The wisdom of the ages constantly reminds us to “never judge a book by its cover.”


October 27, 2010
By Ralph Pearce

The wisdom of the ages constantly reminds us to “never judge a book by its cover.”

For the past 30 years, I have grappled with many people concerning that adage, and as time moves on, I am no less willing to concede that sometimes, “dressing the part” is warranted. As I have observed many times before, you can dress any mindless stiff in a three-piece suit and all you really have is a politician or government consultant.
I’m reminded of this fact from two news items that could have a bearing on Canadian agriculture – if we are willing.

During the first week of October, it was announced that China is in the market for – well, everything. The country’s financiers were buying majority shares in hydro generation plants and oil projects around the world. But is this latest round of acquisitions, along with continued imports of iron ore and copper, an attempt to monopolize economies or part of an effort to balance a trade surplus estimated by some to be more than $2 trillion?

Then there was the uncertainty surrounding the Commonwealth Games in India. Would cancelling the Games be a backwards step for India in the eyes of the world?
“Never judge a book by its cover.”

For the better part of the past decade, China has tried to convince the world that it is a major player in the global marketplace. Yet many in North America view the country only as a Communist stronghold and cultural backwater, albeit with loads of cash to spend. Perhaps those in Canadian agriculture should be concerned more with the cash and less with the culture (or the communism).

The same can be said of India, where the world’s fastest growing middle-income sector is spending more, and with a penchant for acquiring knowledge and using state-of-the-art technology, their aptitude and business savvy are growing as fast as their appetite for proteins.

The Games are done now, but 1.18 billion people remain, and many are ready to play on a different world stage.

All of that spells opportunity for agriculture here in the Great White North. Proceed with caution? Well, that’s a healthy bit of advice when dealing with any business interests. We certainly do not want melamine-tainted products or lead-painted toys. But are we willing to sell value-added grains, oilseeds and plant-based proteins to two countries willing to pay top dollar?

I would think we should be.

Caution is always a wise companion in business. However, caution should not blind farmers, processors and manufacturers to the very real potential for doing business with a much larger market.

Besides, how many urbanites look to agriculture and unfairly see only overalls, dirty boots, a worn ball cap and the willingness to use “chemicals”? How many grasp the depth of knowledge, the years of experience and the commitment underneath the surface that farmers embody?
“Never judge a book by its cover.”

Beyond the introduction
Dig a little deeper into this edition of Top Crop Manager, and see more of what is happening in the plant breeding industry, including an introduction to Dr. Lana Reid, a rare individual, indeed, as she is a corn breeder with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. And our Machinery Manager for this edition gets down to business on the topic of combines.

That about “covers” it.


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