$500,000 research grant for Concordia prof

Professor Satoshi Ikeda joined Concordia’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology only this past June, and the university is already reaping the benefits.
Ikeda was awarded a Canada Research Chair Grant last week for his work on sustainable agriculture. He will examine socially and ecologically-sustainable alternatives to the current global economy and politics. The university will receive $100,000 annually for five years to fund the project.
Having grown up in Japan and completed doctorates in both economics and sociology in the U.S., Ikeda brings a unique perspective to the study of sustainable agriculture.
“If you look at the larger picture it is to me, quite sad,” Ikeda said in an interview last week. “I am dissatisfied with the existing situation, one dominated by U.S. hegemony and global corporations. Canadian farmers are losing money, but, in the meantime, industrial agriculture is making enormous profits.”
Ikeda is trained to analyze agricultural practices within a large-scale system, but during his stint as a professor at the University of Alberta, he grew increasingly interested in the stories of individual farmers.
“I interviewed this buffalo farmer who was re-converting his field into grassland. It was exciting for me to see how fulfilling this experience was [for him].”
The interview was part of a project organized by Ikeda called Sustainable Agriculture in Rural Alberta, in which his team analyzed and compared individual livestock farms across Alberta. Ikeda says some of the project’s conclusions are encouraging because of the alternatives available to industrial agriculture.
“[These alternatives] happen to provide healthy food, better use of land and less pollution into the water systems,” said Ikeda, adding that by eliminating corporations and selling directly to consumers, farmers are able to raise their profit margins.
Now that Ikeda has joined Concordia University, he plans to do similar research in Quebec and expand his understanding of sustainable agriculture to include crop farming. He also plans to make videos demonstrating the success of organic farming to show other farmers.
“In Quebec there is a richer history of organic farming, so we will have to take that into account,” he said.
In the future Ikeda intends to expand on his research by comparing the farming methods in Canada to those in Italy, Japan, China, and elsewhere. Ultimately he hopes his research will expose farmers to sustainable methods that will produce healthy food at higher profit.
Concordia’s President Claude Lajeunesse welcomed Ikeda saying “this new addition to our Concordia team reflects Concordia’s growing research profile and our efforts to expand our research horizons.”


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