Op-ed in Trouw: "Give more money to local sustainable food producers in developing countries"
The Dutch government and Dutch businesses spend a lot of money on food production in developing countries. But, according to Karin van Boxtel, policy officer at Both ENDS, far too little of that money finds its way to sustainable, nature-inclusive producers.
This is the English translation of Karin's op-ed in Dutch newspaper Trouw. The original can be found here.
With problems relating to food supply, drought and climate building up rapidly, World Food Day on 16 October seems more topical than ever. The international agrifood sector is awash with Dutch money, yet it offers no solution to these crises. And worst of all, everywhere there are local communities and organisations that possess a great deal of knowledge on how to tackle these problems but often lack the resources to do so.
Unfortunately, only a fraction of our money reaches these actors, while we have learned from the nitrogen crisis in the Netherlands that sustainable farmers like Caring Farmers – number one in this year's Sustainable Top 100 compiled by Dutch newspaper Trouw – must be included in the dialogue on how to set up the food system. And that applies not only to Dutch sustainable farmers: in the debate on food and agriculture in the Netherlands, hardly any attention is given to global pioneers in sustainable land use, or to their tried and tested ideas. And that is a missed opportunity.
Farmers in Niger, for example, know how to triple their food production in arid areas by using centuries-old methods. By passing that knowledge on to others, millions of hectares of dryland have been made fit for cultivation. Good examples like this can be found all around the world.
The Netherlands can have an impact by supporting these 'food leaders'. We are the world's seventh largest investor in land beyond our borders. Rabobank, for example, has 65 billion euros in ongoing loans in the worldwide agrifood sector. And the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs rightly wants to spend 400 million euros in the coming year on strengthening food security in developing countries. Money and opportunities aplenty, you might think.
Women and young people
To achieve real change, that money needs to go to the local farmers, women and young people who produce the food and who are leaders in sustainable food production. But that is not happening. Unfortunately Dutch public and private financiers are still putting their money in completely the wrong places.
Much of the Netherlands' funding for sustainable development and climate is currently being spent through large institutions like the World Bank, the Dutch development bank FMO and the UN's Green Climate Fund. In recent years, more than a third of Dutch agriculture-related development assistance has been spent through such institutions on large-scale projects. In the past decade, only 9% of that money has been spent on nature-inclusive, community-led sustainable food production. And finance by private banks generally doesn't find its way to the food leaders at all.
The Netherlands can change that. The climate conference in Egypt at the start of November and the budget debates in Dutch parliament this autumn are perfect opportunities to redirect the flow of money. It would be a step in the right direction if the Netherlands were to spend a large proportion of its development and climate funding on regional funds, which distribute money from large funds and donors in the form of small donations to local organisations and groups that offer sustainable solutions.
In this way, our government can set an example for private banks. They, too, should transform their financing to focus more on long-term investments and returns. And returns should be seen not only as financial but also in terms of the benefits for climate, environment and welfare.
By making such a change of course, the Netherlands can considerably support worldwide leaders in the food and agriculture transition. It is crucial that they become the main focus of how money is spent. That will make a significant contribution to achieving real solutions to the food and climate crisis.
For more information
Read more about this subject
Finance for agroecology
The lion's share of public budgets for climate, agriculture and development still goes to conventional agroindustrial projects that contribute to the current climate, food and biodiversity crises. Both ENDS and our partners are calling for a transition to agroecological practices that are people- and environment-friendly.
Inclusive ways to sustainable and healthy food for all
All around the world small-scale farmers are using sustainable and inclusive methods to produce food. Working together with nature and each other, they provide their families and communities with sufficient and healthy food. But their production methods are under pressure from large-scale agriculture and the globally dominant system of industrial food production. Together with our partners, Both ENDS is trying to turn the tide in favour of sustainable, local practices that are mostly known as 'agro-ecological' or 'nature-inclusive'. Why are we focusing on these methods? Agro-ecological practices are climate-proof and inclusive and increase the opportunities for communities around the world to produce their food sustainably.
Agroecology is a diverse set of agricultural practices, a field of science and a social movement. It aims to transform food systems towards greater ecological sustainability, social justice, and resilience. Both ENDS and CSO-partners around the world support farmers and pastoralists practising agroecology, both on the ground and in gathering political and financial support.
News / 30 September 2021
Agroecology in Kenya: fighting water pollution while securing food production
About 75% of Kenyans earn all or part of their income from the agriculture sector which accounts for 33% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, agricultural productivity has stagnated in recent years. Various factors have contributed to low agricultural productivity, including an overall decline in soil fertility because of the continuous removal of nutrients by crops; poor farming practices; land degradation and overuse/misuse of synthetic fertilizers that acidify the soil. The solution against these problems is: agroecology.
News / 17 September 2021
Beyond trees: the importance of Non-Timber Forest Products for communities
About one in every six people, particularly women, directly rely on forests for their lives and livelihoods, especially for food. This shows how important non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and forests are to ensure community resilience. Not only as a source of food, water and income, but also because of their cultural and spiritual meaning.
News / 19 August 2021
Violet Matiru: “Communities around colonial Ruiru I Dam still struggle”
After many years of advocating for strong environmental policies at international platforms such as the UN, Kenyan Violet Matiru asked herself: "How does all this lobbying trickle down to our communities? How does this help our mothers who are still struggling with fetching water and cooking on wood stoves?" This is when she and her colleagues founded MCDI Kenya (Millennium Community Development Initiatives) and started to work with local communities. We talked to her about the historical and current power imbalance in water governance and her efforts to improve water governance in the Athi River basin, that runs all the way from upstream of Nairobi, through the city, into the Indian Ocean.
Event / 14 November 2022, 18:30 - 20:00
Climate finance towards resilient and agroecological food systems
UNFCCC COP side event
Food systems account for 33% of GHG emissions, but receive only 3% of climate finance. Climate finance is urgently needed to fund the food systems solutions that can have real impacts and wide-ranging benefits in a diversity of contexts. How do we improve on current funding pathways?
Join this UNFCCC side event to find out more!
Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration
In various countries in the Sahel, vast tracts of degraded land have been restored by the local population by nurturing what spontaneously springs from the soil. They do this using a method called 'Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR)'.
News / 27 September 2021
Analog Forestry: sustainable food production with a feminist perspective
In times of ecosystem degradation, deforestation and climate change, rural communities often struggle to make a living in a healthy and autonomous way. One of the solutions to counter their problems is Analog Forestry, a sustainable practice promoted by many of Both ENDS's partners. We spoke to Carolina Sorzano Lopez*, Analog Forestry trainer from Colombia for the International Analog Forestry Network (IAFN), and Luz Marina Valle*, a local Analog Forestry promotora in her community of El Jocote in Northern Nicaragua, to explain to us the advantages of Analog Forestry.
Publication / 7 November 2022
News / 4 November 2022
Both ENDS to attend climate conference in Egypt
Climate action is urgently needed to slow down global warming. The effects of climate change are already showing themselves. Floods in Pakistan and closer to us, in the Netherlands, are causing loss of life and much emotional and economic damage, while local climate solutions are still largely being ignored. That's why Both ENDS is going to participate in COP27, the climate conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
Publication / 4 November 2022
Publication / 11 July 2019
Press release / 7 March 2022
New report: investment in agroecology necessary for healthy global food system
A recent study by Profundo for Both ENDS and Oxfam Novib shows that investment in agroecology is necessary for a sustainable and inclusive global food system. Today, some 768 million – one in ten – people suffer from hunger or a severe shortage of food on a daily basis. Conflict, economic stagnation caused by the Corona epidemic, and the climate crisis present an immediate threat to the production of and access to sufficient nutritious food. Agroecology, a form of agriculture that places small-scale farmers, the natural environment and short supply chains at the centre of food production, makes communities in developing countries more resilient and helps them combat hunger. The study concludes however that major donors, including the Netherlands, are so far providing insufficient support for agroecology.
Publication / 7 March 2022
Publication / 22 April 2021
Fair Green and Global Alliance (FGG)
Together with civil society organisations from all over the world, the Fair Green and Global (FGG) Alliance aims for socially just, inclusive and environmentally sustainable societies in the Netherlands and the Global South.
The Netherlands, the world and the elections
Elections are soon to be held in the Netherlands. The political parties are sharpening their knives and have outlined their plans in hefty manifestos. Not surprisingly, they mainly focus on domestic issues. International themes are primarily addressed in terms of opportunities for Dutch companies and threats in areas like health, privacy and competition that we need to protect ourselves against. But if we want to make the Netherlands sustainable, we especially need to look at our footprint beyond our own borders and make every effort to reduce it. In the weeks leading up to the elections, Both ENDS looks at where the parties' manifestos offer opportunities to achieve that.
Event / 28 February 2019, 14:00 - 15:30
Webinar: Realizing women’s land rights in Africa
This webinar will feature experiences from several grassroots initiatives and highlight how they fight for women's improved access to and control over land and other natural resources and to scale up women's land rights.
Event / 22 September 2022, 13:00 - 14:30
Showcasing transformative approaches for women’s land rights
Both ENDS and the Land Portal Foundation invite you to the third webinar in the Whose Land? Inclusive Pathways to Land Governance series. This third Whose Land? webinar will showcase gender transformative approaches on women's land rights. Gender transformative approaches are defined by women acting as agents of change, transforming structural barriers and redefining gender norms. These approaches facilitate the participation of women in land governance decision-making processes, but require closing the land data gender gap.