Monday April 2, I’m boarding the plane. A few last calls with our partner TNO on our collaboration this year, and tuning the core team on Topsector AgroFood. Holland is under the spell of economic crisis, government negotiations and austerity. I’ll leave that behind for a while and during the flight I feel the space and inspiration for what is about to be. Three days of working with our partners Friesland Campina, IFDC and local government. The aim is that the local FC company (FC Wamco) will source ten per cent of its milk locally by 2016. This has advantages for many: the company expects better relationships with local parties, cost reduction and the development of new products for the local market. Farmers are guaranteed of a sales channel and a better price, learn about modern dairy farming. Also, they get access to water, infrastructure and education.
Ambitions are high, too high for the company to realise on its own. The co-operation with IFDC and our center should make sure the farmers are beïng trained and organised, the trade relationships will last in the long run and will lead to improved nutrition for locals. The co-operation is part of a major five-year program, called 2Scale. The ambition is to form at least 700 partnerships or clusters of farmers and entrepreneurs, improving access to the local market.
I’m also worried. The enthusiasm when we started early 2011 has somewhat tempered. Due to the current negotiations in Het Catshuis, Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ decision on financing the program has been postponed. Not only making us unable to support the farmers and Friesland Campina, but we could also lose trust from both parties.
Which we will need so much.
Arrival in Nigeria. A real challenge at the airport, because migration procedures are laborious and take much time. But after that, I feel peace and calm. My hotel is a local agriculture research institute. Feels like home.
Tuesday morning. I’m confronted with the usual chaos on the roads, custom to all these countries. It takes hours to cover a short distance, but at 8:30 we have finally arrived. Today I’m having meetings all day, with dairy experts from the private sector, government, researchers, and NGOs. After the formalities of opening speeches, we start off with the findings of Dutch researcher Heko Koster. He has spent the last six weeks mapping the dairy sector in this oil state. Briefly, he states five issues that need to be addressed to achieve ambitions. The liveliest debates are on stimulating the use of better races, and land property: two politically highly sensitive topics. Besides that, Friesland Campina indicates the Tsetse disease causes a special challenge. They have had no such experience in South-Asia, where they work on new programs as well. In the afternoon we work in groups on the five topics. Very useful suggestions for follow-up actions are brought up. Also, a clear agreement on the project approach and focus arises.
to be continued…