President Amadou Toumani Touré of Mali visits Wageningen on Thursday 1 December. What is Wageningen UR’s involvement in this Sahel country?
- There will probably be a programme focused on supporting sustainable rice production in the extensive irrigated land of the Office du Niger. The programme will concentrate on food security, more efficient water use and the conservation of ecological value. Gestion de l'eau, a French project with Wageningen input, is already at work in the region.
- Wageningen UR is supporting the development of the agricultural faculty of the University of Segou. Key to this is designing educational programmes and curricula, and contributing to innovation in higher education.
- The Great Green Wall: several Sahel countries want to create a 15 kilometre-wide green corridor right through the Sahel to fight back deforestation. The original plan is largely based on planting trees. Wageningen Ur and partners including VU University Amsterdam want to see a broader approach with attention to a viable farming system as well.
Quite what Dutch companies (consultancy firms, for example) are going to contribute to these programmes is not yet clear. 'They are watching developments with interest', says one of the initiated.
Wageningen has been involved in Mali for years with the Convergence of Sciences programme in which research is conducted on agricultural innovation systems. The programme gets farmers, researchers, companies and government working together on issues of food security and sustainable development.
The president is not coming to sign development contracts in Wageningen - it is still early days for that. His main reason for coming is that Wageningen is well-known in Mali.