From aid to trade: Increasing food output

The National Geographic reported in September that almost two decades ago, the Dutch made a commitment to sustainable agriculture under the motto, “Twice as much food using half as many resources”.

Since then, Dutch farmers have reduced dependence on water for key crops by as much as 90 per cent and almost completely eliminated the use of pesticides on plants in greenhouses.

In the past 20 years, Kenya’s population has increased significantly.


At the current rate of growth, there will be 80 million people by 2040.

In order to feed all them, food production will need to increase by 50 to 70 per cent and local, regional and international trade flows must be expanded.

The Netherlands makes a significant contribution to global food security.

It is the second only to the United States in global food exports.


Not only the government, but also companies, NGOs and knowledge institutions are playing a role in bringing about sustainable farming and food security worldwide.

Some 45 per cent of all graduate students of the Dutch Agricultural University (WUR) are recruited abroad and the larger part of its research focuses on solving problems faced by nations such as Kenya.

Farmers, traders and consumers in Kenya are experiencing the impact of two consecutive seasons of drought.


Climate change is having far-reaching consequences for the agricultural sector, and the food security situation.

The increasing numbers of rural and urban poor are the most affected.

Continued economic growth has made Kenya a lower middle income country, while the development landscape has changed fundamentally over the past years, a trend that is likely to accelerate.

Kenyans are known for their strong entrepreneurial skills and agribusiness.


The Netherlands’ role as a traditional donor is in transition from aid to trade.

In the run-up to that the Netherlands will act as a public investor rather than a donor, investing public funds with the aim of leveraging private investments in the food security sector.

The involvement of Dutch water and agricultural companies, knowledge institutions and other stakeholders will be promoted.

In Kenya, new investments by the Dutch in the food security sector have resulted in several promising public private partnerships linking farmers to local and international markets in dairy, aquaculture and horticulture.

BIO Foods Ltd, Happy Cow Ltd, the Ketchup project and Unga Fish Feed are such examples.

Dutch entrepreneurs and NGOs have been shaping activities linking trade and development.

The move towards sustainable business cannot go without paying attention to inclusivity.

Therefore, taking care of both natural and human resources is of equal importance to short and long-term economic gain.

It is vital to understand that unsustainable methods eventually result in adverse environmental impacts – global climate change being among these that, in turn, affect resource availability.

Effective value chains are necessary in contributing to solving the issue.

This implies considering social responsibilities such as working and living conditions of labourers, the needs of farmers, and consumer health and safety both in the present and the future.

Other examples of sustainable and inclusive methods include green fertilisers, reducing food waste, effective value chains, education, reduction of water usage and low pollution, soil care and recycling.

The Dutch want to work with Kenya to produce twice as much food in the next 20 years by using new technologies, market improvements, creating new partnerships and working in an inclusive and sustainable way.

(Ms Willems is the First Secretary, Food Security in the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherland)

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