This month our international development content focuses on food security. So let us introduce you to some of our team members working on programmes within this theme.
First up is Marijke de Graaf.
Marijke is a nutritionist. She is an expert in food and nutrition security. And she is committed to better food systems that take into account healthy diets, climate resilience, gender perspectives and sustainability. Her knowledge and expertise come from 9 years of working in developing countries and another 20 in the Dutch development sector. And since May 2020, she has been working at the Netherlands Enterprise Agency as Programme Advisor for food security. 2 of the programmes she works on include: FDOV and SDGP.
Why food security?
“I find food and the ways people produce, prepare and consume it interesting, on a personal and professional level. I love cooking and the link between food, diet, health and the environment. Early on, I decided that development cooperation was for me. It is a privilege to work in an international setting. It is very interesting to see the links between the challenges in developing countries and the Netherlands regarding healthy diets and sustainable food systems. We need change on both sides. I think I can contribute the most to nutrition-related issues and solutions in developing countries.”
Tell us more about your job at the Netherlands Enterprise Agency
“I coach and supervise 4 public-private partnerships that work on private sector development and food security in developing countries. I focus on the content of the projects, while a colleague deals with the financial part. I check whether the implementation is in line with what we originally agreed and provide tailored advice. Normally, I would visit the projects to see how they are going, but that has not been possible because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am really looking forward to visiting the project sites and meeting the partners face-to-face.”
What are you the proudest of?
“I am really proud that we are stimulating nutrition-sensitive programming with our nutrition practitioner guide. We created the guide for implementers of food security projects with external experts. I am also proud of the SDGP online community we started for and with our project partnerships. The community is a place to share experiences and inspire each other.”
Anything else you would like to add?
“Yes. My tip for consumers: Before you throw food away, think about what has gone into making it. Think about how many people have invested resources, time and money into that product.”
Next up we have Cécile Fassaert.
Cécile has worked at the Netherlands Enterprise Agency for 13 years, 10 in the international programmes department. In March 2021, she took on the role of Programme Advisor for the new African Biodigester Component (ABC) programme. The ABC programme involves development cooperation and business development, so Cécile’s knowledge in these areas will be very useful.
Biodigesters and food security, tell us more
It sounds like an unlikely combination, as a biodigester produces gas. But what happens is, “you put cow dung into a biodigester made of stone or other materials. You then allow the manure to ferment. Once it is fermented, you get bio-slurry on the bottom. The slurry contains a lot of nutrients, so you can use it as a fertiliser on crops. This helps the crops grow better and increases the yield. Also, the soil quality improves because you are adding organic matter. Farmers also save on artificial fertiliser and pesticides as they already have organic fertiliser from the biodigester.
Farmers can use the fertiliser on crops for the market. By doing so, they contribute to the food security of the neighbourhood, region or country. Families can also use it in their private vegetable gardens, increasing their food security.”
Do biodigesters only help with food security?
“No. Biodigesters also provide a clean cooking option, making the kitchen a much safer place. They replace cooking on firewood. So, women and children do not have to collect firewood anymore, resulting in less deforestation. Also, you can connect a biodigester to toilets, making it a sanitation solution, too!
“I like the fact that I have been able to guide and coach the programme from the beginning. I contribute my ideas on how we should carry it out.”
Food security and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency
Would you like to help increase food security around the world? Do you have an innovative idea for a food security project? Find funding for your food security project or consult our advisors; they are happy to help you and offer advice.