12/27/2012 09:08 EST | Updated 02/26/2013 05:12 EST

Sask. premier wants to boost crops by 10M tonnes

Saskatchewan's Premier Brad Wall is pledging to hike crop production by 10 million tonnes over the next decade.

According to the Saskatchewan Agriculture Ministry, total crop production was 25.9 million tonnes in 2011, up 8.7 per cent from the 2001-10 average.

As premier, Wall has often talked up Saskatchewan's resource sector, but says when he travels on trade missions, the majority of questions he gets are not about potash, oil or uranium — they're about agriculture.

"Ninety per cent of the meetings that I'm having are dominated by questions about pulses and the Wheat Board changes and food," he said.

So, with a view to helping feed a growing world, the government says its growth plan is focused on increasing crop production and boosting agricultural exports.

Wall says the government can help by investing in crop research and promoting agriculture on trade missions.

Meanwhile, it's not only traditional Saskatchewan crops that will be getting the push, but newer varieties, too.

"Indonesia has 240 million people, they're growing at seven per cent, they want more protein in their diet. In comes Saskatchewan lentils and chickpeas and peas," he said.

Wall notes many of those crops weren't even grown in Saskatchewan until just a few decades ago.

Now, they make up 90 per cent of all the pulses imported by Bangladesh and more than half of those in India.

"It's really Saskatchewan farmers — those are Saskatchewan numbers, not Canada," Wall said.