Why the Saskatoon Region is important for China and the World

By Tim LeClair

Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) is a member of the Consider Canada City Alliance along with ten other cities across Canada. We work together to support companies entering Canada and finding the best region for their needs. There is a need for increased engagement with international partners like China from the Saskatoon Region and Canada as a whole.

SREDA’s goal during the upcoming investment attraction mission to China is to build relationships that will develop into successful business transactions in key industries. This will allow for potential investment into the Saskatoon Region’s economy. The expectation is to entice Chinese companies to come to Saskatoon for project work as well as use Saskatoon as an entry to the Canadian market. Our strong agriculture, mining and ICT industries are a great compliment to the needs of China and provide a strong business case for Chinese companies to partner with Saskatchewan companies.

Saskatoon and Saskatchewan have numerous natural resources that make our region a desirable place for business. Saskatchewan has large deposits of potash, oil and uranium that are mined by numerous companies that call Saskatoon home. Along with our minerals, we have best practices in agriculture that has made Saskatchewan a world leader in growing and producing food products.

Saskatchewan has 41% of Canada’s arable land with six different soil zones throughout the province. Cereal crops, feed and forage, oilseeds, pulse crops as well as some speciality crops are the primary focus for crop production produced in Saskatchewan (Government of Saskatchewan, Ministry of Agriculture, 2012).

Recently, the Saskatchewan Government and Potash Corporation invested $50 million into the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) to develop Saskatchewan-led solutions to feed a growing world population (Government of Saskatchewan, December 2012).

With these significant resources, Saskatoon and Saskatchewan are in a position to lead initiatives to address food security issues around the world.

The following showcases Saskatchewan’s strength’s in crop production:

  • Wheat is a major cereal crop which Saskatchewan supplies 5% of the world’s exported wheat
  • Six million hectares of all classes of wheat (a value of $1.5 billion) was produced in Saskatchewan in 2006
  • It is estimated that Saskatchewan processors exported $24 million worth of processed forage feed products in 2007
  • In 2007, Saskatchewan produced almost four million tonnes of canola, which was 45% of Canada’s total canola production
  • Saskatchewan also produces 70% of Canada’s flax and 87% of Canada’s mustard
  • The total production of chickpeas, peas, and lentils in 2007 was 3.1 million tonnes planted on over 4.6 million acres of Saskatchewan land
  • Saskatchewan produces the greatest amount of wild rice in Canada

(Stats above from Government of Saskatchewan, Ministry of Agriculture, 2012)

 Aerial view of University of Saskatchewan and downtown Saskatoon

 Aerial view of University of Saskatchewan and downtown Saskatoon

Information communication technology (ICT) is a critical industry that supports numerous other industries including healthcare, mining, manufacturing and biotechnology. ICT professionals have found Saskatchewan’s economy fertile for innovation that only ICT companies can supply. As Statistics Canada has reported, Saskatchewan’s main economic drivers (Agriculture, Mining, Oil & Gas) are in turn driven by innovation in ICT. This need for innovation has created a growing demand for ICT involvement, and Saskatchewan businesses are stepping up to meet the need.

Saskatoon has an abundance of brilliant researchers in various specialities across industries such as agriculture, ICT, mining, minerals, oil and gas. This has created a very strong value-added sector to numerous industries. Saskatoon has capabilities to process and add value to raw materials and commodities from the land. Crops can be processed, have nutrients added to them and then be shipped around the world as a finished food ingredient. Potash as well as uranium are processed and shipped around the world to be consumed. Saskatoon and Saskatchewan use the talent, research and development from our region to enhance commodities into products and sell them globally. These best practices and skills are part of the package that the Saskatoon Region has to offer to partners and investors from China.

(Tim LeClair is President & CEO of SREDA.)