Research Priorities - OMAFRA Research Advisory Network (ORAN)

OMAFRA Research Advisory Network (ORAN) is a defined and flexible approach to research priority setting, and allows participation and input from a broad array of stakeholders and institutions. ORAN reflects OMAFRA's commitment to ensuring that information flows among all partners in the agri-food research system.

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The OMAFRA Research Advisory Network (ORAN) is a network of advisory bodies that provide long-term, strategic guidance for research program development as well as identification of short-term and emerging research priorities in seven research theme areas:

  • Agricultural Policy and Rural Development
  • Bioeconomy - Industrial Uses
  • Emergency Management
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Food for Health
  • Product Development and Enhancement Through Value Chain Collaborations
  • Production Systems (Animals and Plants)

The seven research themes build on traditional strengths and expand research focus into areas of opportunity for industry and enhancement of the public good. Research priorities established under ORAN inform calls for proposals for research programs funded under the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance(OMAFRA - University of Guelph Agreement) as well as other open research programs.

ORAN publications

  • OMAFRA Strategic Research Themes for 2008-2012. This document describes OMAFRA's seven research themes and defines key research areas (contact for more information).
  • "Updated Priorities and Emerging Issues" document (english only) describes short term priorities and emerging issues for the seven theme areas. This document is produced yearly.

Key Components of ORAN

OMAFRA Research Advisory Network (ORAN)

Figure 1. OMAFRA Research Advisory Network

The Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO)

ARIO is a government agency reporting directly to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Its membership broadly represents the agri-food industry in Ontario. ARIO advises the Minister about strategic directions for OMAFRA funded research.

Expert Panels

Expert Panels meet at longer intervals (every 5 years or more) to develop strategic, long-term priorities for ministries' funded research and identify long term trends, issues and barriers in the seven research theme areas. Expert Panels were convened last in 2008.

Theme Advisory Groups

Theme Advisory Groups (TAG) are a group of ministry and external individuals with broad knowledge of the research theme areas. They meet yearly to evaluate ministry and stakeholder input and identify emerging research issues. TAGs monitor research progress and advise on research priorities for annual calls for proposals for OMAFRA-funded research programs. Key individuals in the Theme Advisory Groups include:

  • OMAFRA Director Champions are ministry directors whose program areas benefit from research. Director Champions chair the TAG meetings and provide overall direction in the research theme areas.
  • Research Program Directors (RPDs) - University of Guelph are faculty who administer the theme-based research programs under the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance (OMAFRA-University of Guelph Agreement). Priorities developed under ORAN are communicated in yearly calls for proposals issued under the Agreement.
  • Research Analysts are OMAFRA staff with responsibility for research program coordination and knowledge translation and transfer that play a key role in coordinating ORAN and engaging stakeholders


A broad range of stakeholders provide valuable input to the priority setting process. Stakeholders contribute to the priority setting process by:

  1. Participating on ARIO, the Expert Panels and/or the Theme Advisory Groups
  2. Identifying research needs and providing input into ORAN through:
    • Participation in commodity based or theme-based meetings and Research Days
    • Providing stakeholder documents
    • Responding to surveys
    • Engaging informally with OMAFRA staff


Researchers from government and academic institutions contribute to the priority setting process as described above, but are also key in responding to calls for research proposals and ensuring that research is conducted that meets government and sector needs.

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