Prairie Organic Grain Initiative Final Evaluation
NEW REPORT HIGHLIGHTS THE PRAIRIE ORGANIC GRAIN INITIATIVE AS A KEY PLAYER IN SECTOR RESILIENCE
Since October 2014, the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative (POGI) has aimed to increase resilience and stability in the prairie organic sector, increase the quantity and quality of organic grains, and develop relationships across organic market value chains. With POGI ending in June 2019, Tapestry Evaluation and Strategy was commissioned to carry out an external evaluation to understand the initiative’s effectiveness as well as improvements for future work.
The evaluation highlights six key questions to measure the success of POGI.
Did the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative increase collaboration in the organic sector?
The evaluation found that POGI’s organizational model was effective in increasing collaboration. This collaboration led to increased discussions, better identification of sector gaps, better ability to act on gaps, and increased funding available.
Did the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative develop useful tools for organic grain farmers and agronomist?
Between 2015 and 2019, POGI has had 1675 folks attend production workshops, 1390 attended field days, 1025 attended transition workshops, thousands of views on the Pivot and Grow website, and more. Suggestions for future improvements include increased agronomy/extension support for farmers.
Did the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative increase the quality and quantity of organic grain?
The evaluation suggested that it is too early to expect major changes in quality and quantity of organic grain but that POGI has created a strong foundation and is on the right track. Furthermore, 58% of the 39 organic farmers interviewed reported that POGI had significantly contributed to management changes on their farm.
Did the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative support transition to organic management?
Between 2014 and 2018, there was a 47% increase in the number of acres of organic field crops in the Canadian Prairies. Although there are many reasons as to why a farmer would transition as well as resources for transitioning, farmers interviewed did note that the POGI transition tools were useful and supported their transition.
Did the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative increase market access for prairie organic grain?
One farmer interviewed said, “The network of producers to talk to and buyers to sell through has expanded through POGI…. POGI has brought more attention to the Canadian prairies from North American buyers.”
Did the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative help the sector work towards increased stability and resilience?
The program is on the right track to increasing stability and resilience. Future programs should try to strengthen the sector by improving crop insurance programs, better price discovery mechanisms, and the ability to offer higher premiums for farmers during transition with long-term buyer relationships.
Moving forward, what should future work look like? The evaluation highlights increased quantity and quality of grain, environmental sustainability, markets and profitability, and collaboration and social capital as key to the success of prairie organic grains.
Data for the evaluation was collected through interviews and surveys with more than 80 organic and transitioning farmers, interviews with sector-level experts and grain buyers, data from Canada Organic Trade Association, POGI program records, and discussions with POGI staff and partners. evaluation