World Food Day: Netherlands invests in agricultural research

The world has a growing number of mouths to feed and people are eating more and more meat and dairy products. Knowledge and innovation are needed to boost food production and make it more sustainable, at home and in developing countries. So over the next four years, the Netherlands will be investing 112 million euros in international agricultural research.

The move was announced by international cooperation minister Ben Knapen on the eve of World Food Day on 16 October. The funding will go to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a global network of 15 research institutes focusing on agriculture, food and nutrition and sustainable environmental management. Wageningen University plays a key role in the network.

With this decision, the international cooperation minister is giving substance to the policy he previously agreed with the House of Representatives. Food security is one of the four spearheads of Dutch efforts in developing countries because Dutch businesses and research institutes have extensive knowledge and expertise in this area. The ministry is also encouraging the Food Security Knowledge Platform, launched by Mr Knapen, and businesses and the public sector to make a key contribution to the CGIAR’s work.

The CGIAR will use the money to perform research into such areas as improvement of crops like potatoes and cassava, environmentally friendly fisheries, sustainable agriculture in arid regions and better agricultural and food policy in developing countries.

Last week it was also announced that the first round of the public-private partnership programme for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Food Security, worth 100 million euros, had drawn to a close. Thirty-five companies are through to the final round, including Dutch companies in the focus sectors agri-food and horticulture.

On Wednesday the international cooperation minister will meet with a delegation from Qatar to discuss working together on food security in developing countries. This follows on from his visit to Qatar earlier this year. A relatively new donor country, Qatar set up the Global Dry Land Alliance and since the 2008 food crisis has been strongly involved in tackling the global food problem. The desert country itself imports 90% of its food but aims to be 70% self-sufficient by 2023. It also wants to become a role model for other desert countries.