What is the best way to stimulate new forms of agriculture while simultaneously increasing awareness about healthy nutrition and fostering the development of new knowledge? By cutting a deal! The Regional Deal Foodvalley brings the national and regional governments, entrepreneurs, knowledge institutes and research institutes together in a collaboration to speed up the transition towards a sustainable and healthy food system. This deal provides an impulse to, for example, research on innovative food supplies. A relevant issue, since the world population is expected to increase by two billion in the next two decades.
The Regional Deal Food Valley is comprised of three separate coherent parts: agricultural transition, awareness of healthy nutrition and knowledge development.
The new farming
Livestock farming businesses seek ways towards a more circular approach, while simultaneously having a positive impact on the immediate environment and fortifying their business for the future. That requires a new way of working, with alternative feed, fewer emissions of particulates and nitrogen, and improved soil, water and air for nature and nearby inhabitants. The regional deal offers a smorgasbord of novel concepts.
With a focus on easily implemented breakthroughs, practical, viable and affordable concepts are put to the test and assessed. For example: how do they reduce emissions while improving animal health and well-being (such as cutting back on the use of antibiotics). And all this while maintaining food quality. The innovations are also assessed in how they strengthen the farmers’ action perspective and revenues model.
Healthy nutrition in all stages of life
The Regional Deal Foodvalley also allows WUR to launch interesting research in the field of healthy nutrition. We will monitor 1000 young mothers in 10 municipalities. In collaboration with obstetricians and some 20 consultation bureaus, we will map the eating pattern of lactating mothers.
Moreover, we will work with Rijnstate Hospital, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, Toon Hermans Houses and sports centres in the region to provide nutritional and lifestyle advice to patients who have been treated for cancer. We will also study the relationship between nutrition and the development of colon cancer (in some 3,000 patients), and launch an extensive research group to monitor the eating habits of children with cancer in the Princess Máxima Centre in Utrecht.
Through the Regional Deal Foodvalley WUR is able to launch studies on so-called food-interventions in 10 districts in Utrecht. Particularly around schools, where chefs will be trained by professionals to prepare a healthier, more sustainable menu. Pilots in the area will be carried out in at least 3 hospitals, 5 care facilities and 25 medium or small businesses.
Fortifying the Wageningen-Utrecht knowledge cluster
The Regional Deal Foodvalley enables WUR to expand the already fully functioning cluster of knowledge institutes and businesses in and around Wageningen with similar entities with the Utrecht Science Park. Not only Utrecht University and the UMC but businesses and knowledge institutes as well. Here, practical know-how of farmers and health professionals is linked to fundamental and applied knowledge to find viable and scalable solutions for the region and elsewhere in the Netherlands.
The intended collaboration with the Nijkerk Food Academy offers a fine example. Here, vocational professionals are practically trained in the food industry. Professionals with practical knowledge and experience are needed for the development and testing of new products and services. Linking theoretical expertise of the university with practical experience is essential to this end.
About the Region Deal Foodvalley
The deal is a multi-year collaboration between the government, the Foodvalley Region, Wageningen University & Research, Utrecht University, Utrecht province, LTO Noord, VNO-NCW midden and the Vallei and Veluwe water board. These parties signed the underlying agreement. The collaboration will free up 73 million euros in the next four years.