Episode 11

Published on:

16th Jun 2022

Adding Value to Northern Crops with Mark Jirik of the Northern Crops Institute

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

This Week on Growing Pulse Crops:

  • Meet Mark Jirik, Director of the Northern Crops Institute
  • Explore the benefits NCI offers producers and the education services they provide to global markets to encourage US commodity consumption
  • Learn about the new facility NCI will grow into to better facilitate their end-product development process and educational services

Growing Pulse Crops Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

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About the Podcast

Growing Pulse Crops
The science and business of farming field peas, chickpeas, and lentils
This show features the latest in research, agronomy, and economics of pulse crops (peas, chickpeas, lentils, etc.).

Demand for these nutrient-dense, high-protein foods continues to grow. There is also interest from farmers to include more pulses into diverse rotations for benefits like nitrogen fixation and soil health.

But the industry continues to face challenges, and we are eager to address these head on. So if you’re a pulse grower or in any way interested in these important crops, hit subscribe and stay tuned for future episodes. We’ll be back with plenty of information about challenges pulse farmers are facing throughout the U.S. and what solutions are working.

Brought to you by the Pulse Crops Working Group with support from the North Central IPM Center and USDA NIFA.

About your host

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Tim Hammerich

I share stories about agriculture, agtech, and agribusiness on podcasts and radio.