Doors opening for Peace farm products

Big Lakes County hosted a regular meeting of the Peace Region Economic Development Authority (PREDA) on Sept. 6 at Triangle Hall. Standing left-right, are vice-chair Carolyn Kolebaba (Northern Sunrise County reeve), PREDA executive director Dan Dibbelt, Big Lakes County Reeve Richard Simard (Big Lakes alternate on PREDA), Big Lakes County Councillor Ken Matthews (Big Lakes representative on PREDA) and PREDA chair Elaine Garrow (M.D. of Spirit River councillor).

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Opening doors to world markets was the focus of the Peace Region Economic Development Alliance (PREDA) meeting Sept. 6.

Expanding agricultural markets was the theme of the meeting at Triangle, west of High Prairie.

“We need to move our products,” says PREDA chair Elaine Garrow, a councillor for the M.D. of Spirit River.

Three agricultural producers from Big Lakes shared about their trip to the United Arab Emirates where they attended the 24th annual Gulfood Food and Beverage Trade Exhibition held Feb. 17-21 in Dubai.

Agricultural Service Board chair Doug Meneice and producers Garrett Zahacy and Tanner Pollack gave a presentation they made to Big Lakes council and Agricultural Service Board on April 12.

They say the Peace region has opportunities to market local markets around the world.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for northwest Alberta,” says Lisa Baroldi, executive director of Big Lakes County Economic Development Authority.

Zahacy spoke on behalf of the group.

“The United Arab Emirates can be a large part of our market to get our products out,” Zahacy says.

“They are investing in Canada and our products.”

He says Canada and producers need to do a better job to promote their products.

“We’re not very good at marketing ourselves,” Zahacy says.

Meneice agrees.

“As Albertans, Canadians, we are selling ourselves short,” Meneice says.

“Moving forward, we have to promote the Peace region, Alberta and Canada.”

Many contacts were made with people from around the world and Canada, they say.

“We think this is a great place to do business,” Zahacy says.

“We had a good first step in building relationships and we found new markets.”

The UAE is a priority trading area for Alberta.

“We found lots of opportunities,” Zahacy says.

The three agree it’s important that the contacts continue.

“We’d like to go back to the conference next year,” Pollack says.

Related to that, PREDA also presented a brief overview on food grain productions, deliveries to local grain terminals and international exports.

Other presentations at the PREDA meeting included local shopping for local products forage seeds and the Canada West Foundation talking about trade agreements and public policy.

PREDA members include Big Lakes County, M.D. of Smoky River, Town of Falher, Town of McLennan, Village of Nampa, Town of Peace River, Northern Sunrise County, M.D. of Peace, Peace River Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures – Peace Country, Northern Lakes College, Lac Cardinal Economic Development, Conseill de developpement de l’Alberta and the Town of Grimshaw.

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