Previous Article Next Article FNPI Search Home Previous Year Next Year Year List


History And Future Of A Valuable Program - The Formation Of Siap

Delvin Kennedy

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 1980      v10 n09&10 p22  
The spirit and intent of a few concerned people regarding Indian agriculture developed into studies and recommendations that consequently became an action oriented program, "The Saskatchewan Indian Agriculture Program". The work was done by an agriculture committee comprised of representatives from the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, the Saskatchewan Department of Agriculture, the University of Saskatchewan, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and experienced Indian farmers. Between 1971 and 1975 this committee met to discuss the problems to overcome difficulties. This committee identified the credit, advisory, education and management training resources required to assist Saskatchewan Indian farmers.

The agriculture committee presented the recommendations to an All Chiefs' Conference which led to a proposal to form the Saskatchewan Indian Agricultural Program. In June, 1975 the Treasury Board approved funding.

During the years 1975 to 1978 the program operated as an extension of the Department of Indian Affairs which held control over funding, disbursements and staff.

Following incorporation in 1978 the Program established administrative support staff during the last two years. The support staff was assigned to new headquarters in


History and Future of a Valuable Program - the Formation of SIAP

Delvin Kennedy

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 1980      v10 n09&10 p23  
Regina and Ag. Reps situated in S.D.A. offices in the six DIAND districts.

The responsibilities of management and accountability were handled by the board. All support staff were hired directly by the corporation and Ag. Reps were seconded from S.D.A. A complete policy manual was developed. It outlined lines of authority, funding regulations, application requirements, reporting schedules and administrative procedures.

The board was provided with the cardinal authority and help to fulfil its obligations as stated in the original document and the subsequent management agreement with the Crown.

THE OBJECTIVES OF SIAP

The objectives of the Saskatchewan Indian Agriculture Program is to promote interest in the agriculture industry, develop economically viable farm units and to improve the productive capacity of Indian reserve lands.

Deep within these objectives are reasons more valuable and these are in keeping with the desire to increase the self-respect, esteem and self reliance of Indian people in and associated with the agriculture industry.

THE GROWTH OF SIAP - The First Five Years 1975 - 1980

On March 31, 1980, the first five year development phase ended.

An evaluation of the program outlined the overall benefits, showing good achievements through the efforts of SIAP. The evaluation emphasizes the need to continue with a second development period between 1980 and 1985.

There is a good opportunity to continue the economic growth that has been achieved since 1975 because of existing farm base and the availability of additional undeveloped land resources. The land base farmed by Saskatchewan Indian farmers during the first five years has increased from 156,000 acres to 247,000 acres while gross farm production has grown from 2.7 million dollars to an excess of 8.6 million dollars. An additional five year plan will increase this acreage to 300,000 with gross production nearing 15.7 million dollars.

Because of the evaluation, the Treasury Board submission for approval of the 1980-1985 program is now in Ottawa awaiting signature and probably will be signed by the time this is out, by Dave Nicholson; assistant deputy minister, Indian and Inuit Affairs. After the document is signed it will be sent to the Treasury Board, along with SIAP evaluation for the information and confirmation by the minister.

MATURITY & FUTURE OF SIAP

SIAP has created valuable assistance to Saskatchewan Indian farmers. SIAP not only emphasizes good farming practices but it helps Indian farmers to understand the farm better in terms of finance and viability. In this way, SIAP leads the way to provide to Indian farmers an understanding between the program and the commercial lending institutions regarding forms of financial assistance by such institutions to assist Indian farmers. This is an example of a project which has initiated formal agreements.

One project that will be actively pursued over the next program span is the wild rice and food self sufficiency project for northern Saskatchewan. The purpose of this project is to explore with the residents in the northern area of Saskatchewan the feasibility of utilizing SIAP expertise and research facilities to initiate the development of agriculture in the north with particular emphasis on wild rice and horticulture (the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables).

In order for the program to work and the projects to be initiated, SIAP has devoted much attention to developing an approach consistent with and accepted by Indian farmers and bands in Saskatchewan relative to land usage and intensive farming operations. Supportive of these two areas of interest SIAP will continue their efforts and research and testing which they feel will be stepped up considerably during the first half of the 80's, both through SIAP's efforts and the growing acceptance of Indian farmers to the value of test plots and related research activities.

Here is a brief outline of program objectives for 1980-1985:

  1. To develop sufficient management and technical capabilities to enable Indian farmers to operate viable farm units.

  2. To continue farm extension services to meet individual farmer requirements.

  3. To develop, through the board of directors, Indian expertise to assume executive roles in the community at large.

  4. To provide, through training, Indian expertise which leads to employment opportunities in the agricultural sector.

  5. To develop farm units whose gross incomes average 85% of the provincial average.

  6. To increase the gross cash production of Indian farmers to some $15,700,000 by 1985.

  7. To bring a total of 300,000 acres of useable land under the control of Indian farmers. This is an acreage of some 53,000 acres over the 1979 average.

  8. To increase the number of farmers (Indian) to 420 by 1985.

  9. To continue the present policy of improving relations and the use of commercial lending institutions to fund Indian farmers.

  10. To develop policy and guidelines to assist in the expansion of specialized agricultural projects in the northern regions of the province and to provide guidelines to assist in other intensive commercial agricultural operations.

  11. To plan the overall needs and structure for an on-going service organization to maintain and secure additional benefits after this second five year development phase.

  12. Land use - to assist bands with formulating land use policy for reserve land.

Every effort is being made to meet the future development needs of Indian farmers and to assure the continuation of the necessary ongoing SIAP services available through the program. With the present clientele and the availability of undeveloped existing land resources, the potential for future economic gains will be considerable if a sincere effort is made over the next five years. Should this action be taken, there is every possibility that Indian agriculture production in Saskatchewan could exceed $15.7 million dollars by 1985.