Award-winning NC alum David Pratt returned to his alma mater on January 27 as a keynote speaker for the College’s Agri-Food Start-Up Weekend.
The event, hosted by ncTakeOff at the Welland Campus, aimed at addressing global food problems.
Since graduating from the College’s Greenhouse Technician program in 2007, Pratt has made great strides in the industry. In 2012 he won a Colleges Ontario Premier’s Award for his work as head grower at Sundrop Farms in Australia. At Sundrop, he worked on a cost-effective method of producing food using the sun’s warmth to remove salt from seawater, saving millions of liters of fresh water and millions of barrels of oil. He developed a sustainable greenhouse growing system that enables the technology to be used in coastal, arid areas around the globe.
Currently, Pratt’s attention is focused on another aspect of sustainable agriculture – insect protein. He’s now based out of Jakarta, Indonesia where he works for a Hong-Kong based Alternative Energy Investments as director of its Americas division.
Pratt said he was looking forward to speaking to students at the agri-food event. His key message: the impact of livestock and animal protein production on the environment, and about the advantages presented by an often overlooked alternative – insect protein.
“Where our protein is sourced from is what agriculture revolves around,” said Pratt. “While 2.5 to 3 billion people on this planet eat insects directly, we’re not really proposing this; you can change what our animal protein is actually eating.
“Swine, cattle, fish farming and poultry – all of these depend heavily off protein. What’s been heavily overlooked is the actual sustainable use of insect food.”
Pratt said that changing the way that livestock and animal protein are produced, shifting dependence on traditional agriculture –including soy and corn production— would have positive impacts on the environment and help battle climate change.
“If you start changing the carbon footprint of agriculture as a whole, that’s what’s going to create a shift in our methane output. If you shift our methane output, results will be seen immediately,” he said. “The alternative is insects.”