Minister Dijksma and the Clinton Foundation launch Climate-Smart Agriculture training farms
Dutch Minister for Agriculture Sharon Dijksma and former president Bill Clinton are set to sign a second agreement this weekend to launch new international agriculture projects in Africa to boost food security, strengthen local economies, and combat climate change. The focus will be on training farms and other projects for Climate-Smart Agriculture in Rwanda to help smallholder farmers increase yields. Dutch government investments total $3 million (2.2 million euros). Minister Dijksma previously worked with the Clinton Foundation to set up agricultural projects involving 20,000 farmers in Tanzania and Malawi.
Taking the lead
Minister Dijksma explains, "The Netherlands takes the lead in Climate-Smart Agriculture, which allows us to play a key role in boosting food security in Tanzania, Malawi, and now Rwanda. At the same time, economic opportunities abound for Dutch agricultural firms which, together with local farmers, are tapping into new markets in Africa."
A local potato
In Climate-Smart Agriculture projects, the Netherlands shares its experience and know-how with farmers in Africa to jointly develop innovative, sustainable production methods that show greater resilience to drought, storms and flooding. Training farms will assist Rwandan farmers and growers through information services, research, and the development of products better suited to local markets. One example of such a project uses innovative agricultural techniques to develop and market a potato that is drought-resistant and resilient to disease. Smallholder farmers often use old stock, poor seed, or varieties not suited to local conditions, resulting in disappointing yields and a reliance on costly pesticides.
Opportunities in Africa
The Netherlands is second only to the U.S. in global agricultural production. Africa presents vast opportunities for Dutch businesses, as half the world’s unused arable land – some 200 million hectares – can be found here, and the demand for agricultural products is high. For the past 10 years, sub-Saharan Africa has seen farm imports exceed exports, with a trade gap now approaching $10 billion (7.3 billion euros).
Agriculture forms the basis for economic growth and food security. And Climate-Smart Agriculture is crucial if we are to feed the world in 2050, by which time global production must have increased 60% over today’s levels. This December in South Africa, Minister Dijksma will launch a food security alliance of 75 countries, all of which will then structurally set up agriculture programmes based on Climate-Smart Agriculture concepts.