A cross section of Turkish government officials and genetics industry representatives recently finished a tour of a select few Alberta agricultural operations, mainly pertaining to goats and sheep, as part of efforts to improve their own industry.
Alberta Agriculture led a trade mission to the Turkish province of Erzurum last June and the fall trip was meant as a return invitation to the province’s governor and accompanying personnel.
“There is a research team working very hard to promote Canadian sheep and goat genetics,” said Aarij Bashir, trade and relations officer of international relations and marketing for the Government of Alberta.
The purpose of the tour was to display what Alberta has to offer in the way of exportable genetics. “From our understanding, the researcher has submitted some proposals for large scale projects,” explained Bashir.
A pilot project, still in the initial stages, would use Albertan genetics to improve Erzurum’s less impressive system. Bashir says, due to inbreeding, the Turkish province is suffering declining productivity.
With exports from Canada, researchers there would be able to cross the foreign and local breeds. “And at the same time there’s a lot of respect . . . they recognize Canada has very good genetics,” said Bashir.
While the main focus of the tour was smaller quadrupeds, beef was also discussed because the region would also be able to support the growth of cattle.
“We wanted them to visit successful enterprises,” said Bashir, referring to the specifics of the Albertan tour. The group saw OC Flock Management, located near Bowden, which specializes in small ruminant reproductive technologies. The company is also one of the only two in the world certified to export to Europe and Turkey, said Bashir.
The Bos Farm, Rock Ridge Dairy, located just south of Ponoka, was also on the tour, and Bashir says the group was impressed by the heard, the production plant and the milk and cheese products. “They were absolutely fascinated . . . they were also impressed with the Bos Family.”
Cherylynn Bos walked the guests the grounds and gave a tour of the production plant explaining the procedures and uses of the machines.
There was a lot of interest in how the Bos farm operated and particularly in the specifics of the products. Upon request, Bos explained how goat milk has smaller fats and proteins, and 13 per cent less lactose than regular cow milk. “Goat milk is a good alternative for the senior population,” said Bos.
She also explained the operation produces organic cow milk and kosher goat milk, using vegetable remnant. “All of our products are made naturally with no preservatives,” said Bos.
Along with sales and exposure for Canadian genetics, there is also a chance individuals will come to Canada for training. “With better genetics (and) training they might also be able to improve their industry,” said Bashir.
“We’re hoping this will establish a long-term relationship between Alberta and the province of Erzurum,” he added.