The prime minister Mark Rutte was a very complimentary guest when he attended the opening of the academic year on Monday 3 September. ‘The Netherlands is the world champion in innovation in food and agriculture, and WUR is the scientific engine driving these achievements.’
© Guy Ackermans
Rutte had also figured out ‘Wageningen’s secret’. Firstly, WUR has an international focus so its knowledge is disseminated around the world. Secondly, in Wageningen practical application and research strengthen one another. And thirdly, WUR looks to the future, said the prime minister. In that future, WUR will have to combine more closed-cycle agriculture with new technology and sufficient production, predicted Rutte.
The other honorary guest, European commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan, also stressed the importance of innovation. The European Union will be earmarking 100 billion euros for research and innovation between 2021 and 2027, he explained, ‘the most ambitious programme ever’. Of this money, 10 billion euros will go on research in food and agriculture.
The European Commission also wants more coordination between the food and agriculture policies of the EU and the member states, said Hogan. ‘Every member state will have to explain in detail how they plan to encourage research and innovation in the agrifood sector.’ Like Rutte, the European commissioner saw agriculture not only guaranteeing food security in the future but also becoming circular and sparing the climate.