Pulse crop researcher Al Slinkard was honoured recently by the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) and Food Day Canada for his tremendous contribution to the province’s pulse industry.
Slinkard, was presented with the Pulse Legacy Award on the 10th anniversary of Food Day Canada, Aug. 3.
“Dr. Slinkard is widely known by growers, researchers, and processors as one of the founders of the pulse industry here in our province,” said SPG executive director Carl Potts. “His lifelong commitment to pulses has been instrumental to the successful and growing industry we are a part of today.”
Thirty-five years ago, Slinkard developed the Laird lentil. Since then, the large green lentil market class continues to be adapted and improved while continuing to maintain large consumer demand around the world.
The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) recruited Slinkard from the University of Idaho in the 1970s, when he began work at its newly formed Crop Development Centre (CDC). It was through his work at the CDC that Slinkard saw the tremendous opportunity for pulse crops in Saskatchewan. It was this potential and his dedication to these crops that led to him travelling the province making three or more presentations every week in an attempt to convince producers to try growing pulse crops.
Instrumental in developing the Saskatchewan pulse industry, Slinkard also played a key role in encouraging producers to develop an organization to represent them, SPG.
SPG continues to fund research and to develop new pulse varieties through its long-standing partnership with the CDC. SPG also invests in research to develop improved agronomic practices for pulses and in market development to ensure continued competitive access to existing global markets as well as the development of new markets and end uses for pulse products.
“The opportunity to recognize someone who has made such an outstanding contribution to our national food and agriculture industry is what Food Day Canada is all about,” says Anita Stewart, founder of Food Day Canada. “As a member of both the Saskatchewan and Canadian Agricultural Halls of Fame, Slinkard is the legacy of the pulse industry in this province.”