As part of the celebrations for the 95th anniversary of the foundation of Wageningen University, various activities have been organised for alumni to take place this year. For international alumni, ten meetings with the theme food security have been scheduled around the world. The first meeting was held on Tuesday 26 March in Ethiopia, with the specific theme ‘reduction of post harvest losses’. Thirty alumni gathered together in the head office of the African Union in Addis Ababa.
The programme for the alumni started with attending a morning session scheduled within the 2013 CAADP Partnership Platform Meeting (Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme) that focused on ‘Post-harvest loss reduction in Sub-Saharan Africa’ and was organised by the African Union Commission (AUC), the FAO and Wageningen UR. The 70 people who attended, including members of the parliaments of various African countries, listened to presentations given by the AUC, the FAO, Prof Martin Kropff (Rector Magnificus of Wageningen University), and Toine Timmermans (Wageningen UR Food and Biobased Research). This was followed by a lively discussion and the alumni debate.
The debate was opened by Martin Kropff. He involved the alumni in his arguments, which the audience clearly enjoyed. After this, Yemi Akinbanidjo, an alumnus van Wageningen University who is currently the director of the Food Security department of the AUC, spoke on the importance of Wageningen University for Africa. Wageningen currently has 250 African PhD students. No other university has as many African PhD students. For this reason, Wageningen is vitally important for programmes like CAADP. In this way, 'an army of professionals' returns to Africa. Being trained in Wageningen is also a good step towards a job: 'The job comes searching for you.'
‘Reduction of post harvest losses’ was the theme discussed by the alumni. This component was led by Toine Timmermans, one of the experts from Wageningen in this area. The conclusion of the discussion was that the problem is multi-faceted and all stakeholders should be involved. For Ethiopia specifically, it is important to look into whether new initiatives can be linked to present initiatives such as the Cascape project. It was decided to work out and plan the further details during the afternoon in small groups. During lunch, the official alumni meeting was closed by Martin Kropff.
Six Ethiopian alumni talked with Martin Kropff, Toine Timmermans, and Jennie van der Mheen, the account manager for Africa of Wageningen International, about how the initiatives in this area could be further shaped in Ethiopia. It was a fruitful meeting during which the six Ethiopian alumni, Toine Timmermans, and Jennie van der Mheen agreed to a number of follow-up activities. Two of the Ethiopian alumni also indicated that they would like to give shape to the Ethiopian alumni chapter. With this, the first alumni meeting in the series of ten anniversary activities finished on a high note.