Our region has a vibrant agriculture and food producing sector. After some general supply chain research conducted in 2021 it was identified that the greatest barrier to growth for this sector is transportation. Due to sparsely populated and spread out communities, getting products to local markets is a financial challenge. From the research we realized the first step to solving this challenge would be having one place with all the producers information on what is produced and where where it is distributed to. Creating a new tool would be necessary to help solve this problem, to make shipping more cost effective, and so the Columbia Basin Food Map was born.
The project was received with a lot of enthusiasm from producers, NGOs and government. The immediate impact is that over 30 food producers have gathered their information into one place in a way they never could have before.
The benefit of the map isn't just for producers but also markets, buyers and consumers, giving them access to a wider range of (local and sustainable) products.
This project is still very young, having just finished it completion and still being added to. Its still too early to comment on further economic benefits but we expect to see significant results when the pilot program (next steps) to promote collaborative shipping begins.
This project is absolutely replicable and transferable, it could be used in other regions of BC and in different sectors as well. We would love to see this food map grow to include other areas of the province; currently the Okanagan has a lot of connection to our region so we hope to add them in the future.
During the process it became really clear that while it is great to gather information and bring people together, the participation needs to be guided. The producers don't have the capacity to take next steps by themselves and they will benefit from someone showing them how this level of collaboration can be achieved.