Agricultural consultants can help countries with their food strategy

Wheat harvest in Angevillers, France, August 12, 2021

A food official from the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality in The Hague believes that the Dutch agricultural consulates at embassies abroad can play a role in organizing national dialogues about new sustainable food structures.

A major UN ministerial conference on the world food situation will be held in New York next week. Minister Sigrid Kaag (Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation) is going there for the Netherlands. As a result, she will not be able to participate in the General Reflections after Budget Day.

The meeting in New York was preceded by a range of activities, such as an earlier conference in Rome. National dialogues have been held in many countries to clarify what is wrong with the food system in their own country and what solutions are needed.

Such a dialogue has also been conducted in the Netherlands. Coalitions have been formed between companies, knowledge institutions and social organisations, for example to reduce losses in food chains.

According to Marcel van Nijnatten, food security coordinator at LNV, the UN conference is of crucial importance. World hunger is increasing, the climate is changing and plants and animals are increasingly threatened with extinction. He says expectations are high. Official notes state that the summit could also bring the UN Millennium Development Goals closer through a food transformation.

Three ministries from the Netherlands are involved in the preparations for the summit: LNV, Foreign Affairs and Health, Welfare and Sport. Van Nijnatten points out that the Netherlands is a major exporter and importer of food and has a great deal of knowledge about production and consumption. “We feel responsible and want to look for successful system changes together with other parties,” he said last week in an interview with Agromessage Abroad.

He pointed out that the differences per country are very large, and that the solutions will therefore also have to be different. “But one thing is certain, broad coalitions are needed to future-proof the food system. Emergency aid is only a temporary solution, system change is needed.”

The Netherlands can play an important role internationally, says Van Nijnatten. For example, in the area of making food chains function more efficiently, with higher yields and less use of water and chemical pesticides. The Netherlands is at the forefront of this, but how do you share our knowledge and expertise with farmers, food processors and governments in developing countries?

A large number of countries have now established their own FSS step-by-step plan through national dialogues. It states which system changes are required. Agricultural councils in every country can play a role in this, says Van Nijnatten. “Agricultural Councils have a large network, both in the country where they work and here in the Netherlands. They can map out what support is needed and which Dutch parties have solutions for this.”