Mark Jirik of the Northern Crops Institute joins the show to talk about their value-added product development and their role in education of a variety of crops. Northern Crops Institute is an international meeting and learning center that unites customers, commodity traders, technical experts, and professors for discussion and education. Since 1983, over 133 nations have sent participants to NCI who are government representatives, private industry agriculture workers, or from other commodity utilization industries.
“95% of our course participants had a better understanding of the US supply chain. 99% had a better understanding of quality and 51% increased their purchase of US commodities as a result of what they learned in our courses.” - Mark Jirik
To carry out their mission, NCI focuses on product development work and technical training and education. And like everyone else, they really had to adapt to the events of the past couple of years.
“The pandemic has really forced us to take a look at how we do things. So when we talk about education and technical education, historically, that has been in person training….We do some domestic facing courses as well. And obviously with a pandemic that couldn't happen. So we ended up moving a lot of that education online.” - Mark Jirik
Along with extensive education services, NCI services producers by identifying best product development processes. What they do is not really research, but everything related to the development of a process to get the final product consumer-ready.This unique vantage point has given Mark a special perspective on the global agricultural industry.
“Pulses are a very versatile crop. And when you start looking at the last 10, 15, 20 years, we've been in this protein pool market and pulses have been a very important component….whether you start talking Africa or other parts of Asia, there’s gonna be people that are hungry for protein and I think pulses fit a very nice niche for those people.” - Mark Jirik
To continue to meet the developmental needs of the global food industry, NCI is going to be moving into a brand new facility on the North Dakota State University campus. This new facility will help NCI’s work on behalf of farmers to best position themselves for the future ahead.
“(We are making) sure that people know who NCI is, but more importantly, when they think of quality pulses, they think of our region…it's about increasing the bottom line for growers.” - Mark Jirik