Short speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the opening of the Colombian-Dutch Dialogue on agribusiness, Bogotá

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I sincerely apologise for marching in like this and interrupting your discussions.
I promise I will keep my remarks short.
You may not believe it when a politician says that, but I really will do my best!

Let me begin on a serious note by being blunt.
The subject of this conference is a matter of life and death.
After all, having enough food - good-quality food - is a basic human need.
So ensuring adequate supplies is no small task, especially in today's mega-cities.
There are many serious challenges.
How do we guarantee the quality of our food?
How do we prevent much of our food being wasted?
And how do we get a better match between food production in rural areas and demand in urban areas?
These are challenges we will have to overcome if we are to feed the world's many hungry mouths, from Bogotá to Amsterdam.

But agriculture provides more than food alone.
Certainly here in Colombia.
It's also a vital economic tool for consolidating peace.
Communities ravaged by armed conflict can earn good incomes by cultivating coffee beans, palm oil, bananas and cacao.
And the sector has other positive effects too.
Modern agriculture offers a good alternative to growing coca plants, for example.
Coffee production allows displaced people to return to areas they once fled from.
And the banana industry provides good examples of how working conditions can be improved.

In short, the development of the agricultural sector is crucial in every possible way.
And we all have a role to play.
Government authorities and private parties.
Universities, businesses, NGOs, trade unions and employers' associations.

In the Netherlands, the interplay between these partners is one secret of the sector's success.
Because, despite being a very small country, the Netherlands is the world's second-largest agricultural exporter.
So the delegation that has travelled with me from the Netherlands brings a wealth of experience and expertise, drawn from the public and private sectors.
And the fact they're here in Colombia shows that they're keen to share what they've learned.

I wish you all an inspiring and successful conference!

Thank you.

Ministry responsible