The VanDrie Group talks to: Hans Hoogeveen
Hans Hoogeveen - Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN organizations in Rome (FAO, WFP and IFAD) - gave an interview for our report about Social Responsible Companies.
WHAT POTENTIAL FORMS OF COLLABORATION DO YOU ENVISAGE BETWEEN INTERNATIONAL AUTHORITIES AND THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY?
“If we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and tackle global food problems, we need to collaborate much more closely with the business community. National and international authorities can set out a vision of the future, but ultimately, it is the business community that has the knowledge and expertise in-house. We need to look at how we can assist developing countries to set up an effective production chain.
It is more important than ever to invest in agricultural development in Africa and parts of Asia. Last year, it was reported that there are 40 million more people living in poverty than in 2015. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicated that 2 percent of those 40 million people will migrate unless we invest heavily in agricultural development. We need to get food systems up and running there, as it is impossible and far too expensive to supply products from Europe.”
IF YOU LOOK AT THE ECOLOGICAL, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC IMPACT, WHERE DO YOU BELIEVE THE VANDRIE GROUP CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
“The Netherlands has learned the hard way, through damage and scandals, and now possesses unique knowledge of environmentally-friendly and climate-friendly production. While trees are being felled in many developing countries to allow animals to graze, we have developed technology that enables us to increase production within an area in an environment-friendly manner and with a higher yield. That is where companies such as the VanDrie Group and knowledge institutes such as Wageningen University & Research are able to provide added value. By applying their knowledge in Africa, less agricultural land will be needed and the forests can be managed more effectively. However, the social aspect goes further than just agricultural production, it concerns the entire chain. The Netherlands has been able to reduce antibiotics substantially. The government, as well as the business community, has taken far-reaching measures to achieve that. If you want to adopt this approach abroad, too, you will need a chain coordinator like the VanDrie Group.
Because it looks beyond just production issues, the VanDrie Group occupies a prominent position and can play a leading role in these types of countries. Once production is up and running and market access has been improved, the entire value chain will generate a huge number of jobs in those countries, and that will ultimately also deter migration.”