Back in Switzerland

Flying over a country you really see what’s going on down there. As we passed over France we were amazed at the amount of canola the country grows.

The bright yellow of canola dominates fields in France. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

The bright yellow of canola dominates fields in France. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Bright yellow dominated much of the patchwork of fields below. Robert thinks that about a third of the fields are seeded to canola.

I did a little research on the web and found some interesting facts in a Statistics Canada report. In 2006 the countries of France, Germany, Poland and England together grew around 13 million tonnes of canola. That’s four million tonnes more than Canada, which produced nine million tonnes. Those four countries are only part of the European Union. China alone produced 12.2 tonnes that year.

The UK is the fourth largest canola producer in Europe. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

The UK is the fourth largest canola producer in Europe. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

And I thought Canadian farmers were the Kings of Canola! Well, I know better now – I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

I also learned that the word Canola is derived from ‘Canadian Oil’.  The name was given to it when researchers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba came up with the first food grade oil from rapeseed. I feel better again about being a Canadian farmer. (Check the facts at www.statcan.gc.ca)

Canola fields brighten up the Swiss landscape. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Canola fields brighten up the Swiss landscape. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

We talked with commercial farmers in Zambia about canola. South African farmers grow it, but Zambians don’t. Dr. Davies Lungu, professor of agriculture at the University of Zambia in Lusaka, earned his doctorate in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In discussions with us, he’s wondered if Zambian farmers couldn’t also grow canola.

One farm manager thinks a reason it hasn’t taken hold in Zambia yet is because wheat economics compare very closely to canola.  Wheat is a predictable crop to grow and the market is there. The price of wheat locally is taken from the price of US wheat landed in Zambia. That gives it quite an edge on the world wheat price.

Even if canola is deemed economical, research needs be done to see what varieties would produce well. The markets and infrastructure need to be developed. So I don’t think yellow will dominate the Zambian landscape all too soon.

May is the most beautiful time of year in the Swiss village of Schleitheim. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

May is the most beautiful time of year in the Swiss village of Schleitheim. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Canola fields are blooming in Schleitheim, Switzerland. Today was over 20C, sunny and clear. The last apple trees are a frothy white and the hay meadows resemble wild flower gardens. This is the most beautiful time of year to be here.

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