As part of the on-going Dutch Food Security Support Initiative, CDI completed 6 missions to selected African embassies, aiming to stimulate private sector involvement in embassy specific food and nutrition security initiatives.
In the context of the Food Security Support Initiative of the Task Team Food and Nutrition Security by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, six embassy support missions were conducted in 2011 by Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), Wageningen UR and others, in the selected Fast Track Process Countries Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda. The missions aimed to provide support to Embassies (EKNs) for the design and implementation of the Food and Nutrition component of the 2012-2015 Multi-Annual Strategic Plans (MASP) and the Fast Track Process. Discussions between the selected six embassies and the Task Team Food and Nutrition Security have resulted in Embassy-specific proposals and action plans for the Fast Track Process and first steps towards a sharp food security component of the MASP.
Opportunities for Dutch private sector
Where there is clear opportunity for the Dutch private sector, they are already actively involved. Where opportunities are less clear, longer term market development strategies are required. Simultaneously, agri-food markets are developing rapidly in Africa with very pro-active engagement from, in particular, Chinese, Indian and South African interests.
In terms of contributing to food and nutrition security, local and regional market development is critically important. However, most Dutch private sector players predominantly focused on export markets. While important for foreign exchange, overall economic development and employment balancing export and local market development is key to supporting food security.
Strong demand for Dutch knowledge and expertise
The Netherlands is widely seen as having much to offer in the agri-food sector, particularly in relation to market development. Further, there is a wide network of alumni who have benefited from Dutch education and training support. There is potentially a strong demand for technical, market and change process expertise as well as for supporting education, training and capacity development, related to food and nutrition security. However, to have impact and lead to self-reliant change this expertise must be tailored to the local context and embedded in process of innovation led by local institutions.
Emerging Dutch niche and roleThe implication of the WRR report, current policy directions and the outcomes of the fast track country missions is that Dutch engagement should be innovation and knowledge intensive. This has significant implications for embassy processes, capacities and staffing. All embassies recognised that they needed additional staff capability as well as easy and coordinated access to support and advice from Dutch knowledge institutions, private sector and appropriately skilled consultants. They also affirmed that result oriented monitoring, evaluation and learning processes need to be strengthened at the embassy level.
Supporting and brokering market development and engaging with private sector players was recognised as requiring an entrepreneurial approach. This has implications for the skills and approach of embassy staff and embassy programme development and management processes.