Student - March 12, 2009

KNOWLEDGE CENTRE FOR COMBATING HUNGER

Leading Dutch development organizations, the food industry and Wageningen UR want to set up a knowledge centre on food security and entrepreneurship in Africa. It will focus on the limitations for small farmers, such as poor governance or risk-avoiding behaviour by small businesses.

‘No, we are not going to start any new projects or introduce new technology. There are enough initiatives in African countries. We want to set up a centre for knowledge and expertise about hunger and poverty alleviation.’
These were the words of Hans Eenhoorn, ex-top manager at Unilever and since 2007 Professor of Food Security and Entrepreneurship at Wageningen UR. On his initiative, the relevant development organizations, food companies and governments gathered in the Forum on 5 March. They have released initial funds to the tune of 30,000 Euros for a working group chaired by university professor Rudy Rabbinge to work out the centre’s precise role. It should function as a ‘clearing house’, collecting and sifting information, and spreading information about the best approaches to combating hunger.
According to Eenhoorn, the knowledge centre set up during this meeting will mainly help to remove obstacles for small farmers. Last month he published a report called Constrain constraints, in which he listed 26 limiting factors for smallholders, including lack of microcredit, corruption, lack of land rights, poor soils, bad governance, slow markets and risk-avoiding behaviour. It helps if you remove several obstacles at one go, Eenhoorn said. He takes courage in this respect from the Millennium Villages Project, in which since 2007, investments have been made in eighty villages in ten African countries in order to raise productivity, and improve governance and market access. This has led to villages that are able to overcome poverty themselves. After retiring from Unilever, Hans Eekhoorn was a member of the UN Taskforce on hunger for four years. As Taskforce member, he set up a programme for school meals in Ghana that was supported by a group of Wageningen Alumni.

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