Sharing Dutch agricultural expertise in lcoal partnerships can positively contribute to the eradication of rural poverty.
The Dutch agriculture expertise is much valuable for enhancing access to food, employment and local economic development in both our countries (Rwanda and Uganda). Despite employing 4% of the labour force, the Dutch agriculture sector provides large surpluses for the food-processing industry and for exports.
The Dutch rank third worldwide in value of agricultural exports, behind the United States and France, with exports earning $55 billion annually. A significant portion of Dutch agricultural exports are derived from fresh-cut plants, flowers, and bulbs, with the Netherlands exporting two-thirds of the world's total. The Netherlands also exports a quarter of all the world's tomatoes, and trade of one-third of the world's exports of chilis, tomatoes and cucumbers goes through the country. The Netherlands also exports one-fifteenth of the world's apples. Considering the size of the Netherlands (only 41,543 km2) with a density estimated at 405.7/km, we almost share the same demographic constraints, reason why our countries can learn allot from the success of the Dutch agribusiness sector.
Working with farmers based on ownership and equality
Although the Dutch agribusiness expertise is much needed in our countries, we should not deny the fact that there is still a huge gap in the level of professionalization between local and Dutch agripreneurs.
Our regional agriculture sector is still relatively small scale based and our agro-market systems are still pushed by the production instead of the markets pulling the production (demand and supply elasticities).
To realize profitable economies of scale and still include smallholders, it is important to work in well organized value chains. To ensure the effectiveness of such chains, local farmers may need chain imbedded services, but also hold their share of responsibility towards the success of such kind of partnerships; reason for a need to work with organized farmers.
I can make several recommendations for the Dutch agribusinesses to work with governments in Uganda and Rwanda for sustainable rural development and stable food prices. Our Governments are represented by the Embassies in the Netherlands. These Embassies represent the views of our Governments towards foreign investments. They also serve as One-Stop centers for investment opportunities and priorities in our respective countries. Both countries have also set up specific agencies in charge of providing all necessary information to potential investors (Rwanda Development Board: www.rdb.rw (http://www.rdb.rw) and the Uganda Investment Authority www.ugandainvest.go.ug(http://www.ugandainvest.go.ug)). With the above contacts, the support from Dutch Embassies in Kigali and Kampala, and insights from pools of professionals such Agri-ProFocus (http://www.agri-profocus.nl/); Dutch agri-businesses can establish sustainable relationships with local Governments and positively contribute towards the eradication of rural poverty.
Note that, it is also important for Dutch investors to consider getting an overview of the protocols of the East African common market; as in a way or another, they also have an impact on how the business environment is evolving in all partner states.