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Gerjan Snippe

Sustainability is like love. It is a vague notion we recognize, but no-one knows exactly what it is..  - (Louise O Fresco, president Wageningen University and research centre)

It is not so much this phrase that triggered me, but a statement that was made during a Global Farmers Master Class (GFMC Rabobank) by the previous chairman of WU, Aalt Dijkhuizen: Sustainability is producing more output with less input, especially in connection with the increasing demand for food and resources becoming more and more limited. He concluded that organic for that reason is not sustainable, as it needs more land base and inputs compared to intensive farming.

Quite a shock for an organic farmer like me. Beside producing something that consumers like and value, I believed it was also the best way forward to feed the world. The GFMC opened my eyes, realizing that the broader perspective was more complicated than my small world in Western Europe. Feeding the world is a challenge and will become even a bigger challenge on the longer term. But what about that longer term? What is the impact on soils and farming models if the only route will be to scale up and push to more volume with less input on the short term?

Thanks to my Nuffield Scholarship, supported by Rabobank, I have been able to travel the world and discuss these topics with stakeholders within the food supply chain. The openness of all the people visited, contributed to a more common sense approach towards insights in how to feed the world for the longer term.

Looking back on the gathered knowledge, it has definitely contributed to the conversations we are having currently with our customers and other stakeholders in the supply chain and even more in our strategy for the coming years.