Right here in part of the bread basket of the world yesterday saw a gathering in Southport that was focused on keeping the agricultural sector up to speed with an ever-increasing global population in demand of faster and more efficient food production. Southport Aerospace manager of business development Deanna Mitchell shares what took place.

Deanna Mitchell"Today was the inaugural Manitoba Precision Ag Workshop at Southport. It brought in 80 people from all over Manitoba, even Ontario and Saskatchewan. We had speakers presenting on UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) usage in the Precision Agriculture sector, regulations, the usage of consultants in agriculture, and lot of education and networking."

Unmanned Systems Canada Business and Policy Strategist Mark Aruja notes the drive for UAV and robotic farming devices are bringing the need for a new skill-set. He says while they're reshaping their program, they have to determine the nature of that skill-set. Aruja notes the workshop included discussions as to what the needs are, and how they can facilitate education.

He says it's a challenge seeing as there two groups of customers. One is the new entrants into the program comprised of high school graduates who are adapting application skills, as well as the farmers, agronomers and producers who require an upgrade of their skills. He notes a one-day intensive course is an alternative to provide that, noting the person operating a farm and working in harvest season doesn't have all of the time in the world, and yet these people require education. He adds funding for the education is another question, with all the competition for money for all the new programs. Aruja says the overall point is there is a lot of potential. We have to feed the planet with more than two billion people predicted to be on the earth by 2050. He says the Canadian agriculture sector is out there to feed this world, but something has to be determined to feed this increase of 2 billion people in a sustainable manner. Aruja notes great shifts will occur in terms of how we view agriculture as a high-tech industry.

Mark ArujaAruja explains so many associated factors are included in all of this. Global security concerns play a part seeing as we can't allow the migration of millions of people that's already causing problems. There is so much expertise in Canada, and we can market this around the world. He adds if it can be done here at home, we can surely do it in Africa and other nations. Aruja says this will require new skill-sets and investments. So, he asks, how can the economics of farming work increasing better, and ultimately feed an ever-growing planet.  These are the questions they're determined to answer.