Pulse Beat Individual Articles

Message from Board Chair

Melvin Rattai, Chair, MPSGMelvin Rattai

Food – it means different things to different people. For some, food is just that – food. They need it, they buy it, they cook it, they eat it. And that’s the cycle. For others, food is so intertwined with their culture and daily routine that it means much more than just basic sustenance. When you’re a farmer, your world basically revolves around food. You need it, you eat it, you grow it, you sell it, and all the rest in between. Food means work. Food means family. Food means nutrition. 

As a farmer, it’s easy to forget when you’re sitting in the combine at harvest that this crop you’ve just spent the last few months prepping, seeding, managing, and relentlessly checking is going to eventually end up on someone’s dinner plate. “Plugged the header again,” “When’s the truck going to get here? We’re almost full,” and “Make sure you pick up that part before the shop closes” are all things that are more likely to run through your head. But yes, at the end of the day, this crop you’ve cared for all season is going to be sold into the market and will end up on someone’s plate, whether that is in Canada, or around the world. 

I was lucky to attend a trade mission to Asia earlier this year. I visited Thailand and Japan. In both countries, food is an important part of the culture and both purchase Canadian beans for their high quality. In Thailand, I saw the processing factories and climate-controlled warehouses that keep the quality of soybeans in check. In Japan, I really got a sense for how important quality is to all aspects of Japanese culture – especially food. As a Canadian producer, I feel proud that our crops meet most of Japan’s high-quality standards. I believe that a big reason why Canadian farmers produce such high-quality products is that most farms in Canada are family-owned and operated. We take pride in our product and how it’s handled, and our customers appreciate that. 

One of the best things about being on the Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers (MPSG) Board of Directors is that I get to learn about what happens after I bring my crops to the elevator. I’ve gained a new perspective on the challenges with getting our crops into different markets, and why we have those challenges. Another major benefit is that I get a front row seat to some of the research and development findings and decisions that are made to enhance Canadian farmers productivity and crop quality. It’s eye opening to see how much goes into getting our crops into the hands of consumers. 

I think it’s important to serve on a board and give back to your community. By serving on the MPSG board, I’ve also benefitted. I’ve improved my farm in ways I might not have thought about had I not joined. I look at food through a new lens now. I’ve always seen my part of the story, but now I’ve seen a lot more. Whatever food means to you, I hope this issue of Pulse Beat gives you a good glimpse into the food world that I get to be a part of on so many levels.