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"Appreciation for Dutch knowledge in Kenya and Tanzania"

Ingrid Korving started at the embassy in Nairobi in the summer of 2017. She is the successor of Bert Rikken, who moved to Brazil and is active as an agricultural council for Dutch agrarian businesses.

Before her departure to Africa, Korving worked at the ministry of Economics for years. In her last function in The Hague she already had a lot of contact with agricultural councils as Regional Coordinator for Africa.

Soon after arrival she got to know the minister of Agriculture in Kenya. "It was an open and informative talk. The minister has a lot of respect for the activities that Dutch companies have undertaken in Kenya in recent years, for instance in ornamental plant cultivation. There is a lot of contact between the Netherlands and Kenya and this relationship is also appreciated by the Kenyan government. I believe, for this reason among others, that there are a lot of opportunities for Dutch companies in East Africa."

Your first impression: is agriculture an important economic sector in Kenya and Tanzania?
“Absolutely, agriculture is a very important sector, if not the most important. There are a lot of mouths to feed. The population is growing quickly and purchasing power is increasing, especially in the up and coming middle class. Agriculture offers a lot of people work and an income. This is a boundary condition for the stability in Kenya and Tanzania. The governments are working hard to further stimulate the agrarian sector and are looking to Holland with interest. Our country is crucial for export. The Netherlands is the main export country for Kenya after Uganda. It mainly concerns products from the ornamental and vegetable cultivations."

Are there big differences between Kenya and Tanzania?
“There certainly are. Kenya is very export orientated, especially in intensive cultivations such as roses. Nairobi Airport is the largest cargo hub in Africa and that is largely to do with the export of the roses. In general you could say that the East Africa region is opening up due to the many developments in the infrastructure. That offers opportunities for Dutch companies.

Kenya is focused on export, whilst Tanzania focuses more on domestic sales and those to neighbouring countries. But the agricultural developments are also moving quickly in Tanzania. The cultivation of seeds and other planting materials is growing, especially in the area around Arusha, an area in the north with an excellent agricultural climate."

What are important successes for the Netherlands?
“During the construction of the entire decorative plant cultivation in Kenya, the Netherlands has played an important role over the last fifteen years. The large companies such as Flora Holland and Dutch Flower Group all have their own office here. You see the same happening now in the planting material section. A few years ago Kenya's border opened to Dutch planting materials. Since then developments have moved quickly. There are now 34 Dutch varieties on the Kenyan variety list. Agrico is increasing their materials here.

The experiences in Kenya are now thankfully used in Tanzania. Agreement have been made there too on public and private collaboration with the Netherlands. This collaboration is focused on carrying over agricultural knowledge, measures to reduce losses in the chain and for instance the support of TOSCI, the Kenyan NVWA, in the development of adequate phytosanitary regulations and controls. Twelve Dutch companies from the potato chain are involved in this collaboration."

What will you be focusing on over the coming period?
"In the switch from one agricultural council to the other there can be no gaps left, the running files must be completed. One of those is the certification of the Dutch port to export to Kenya."

Climate is high on my agenda over the coming years. Climate change is heavily affecting East Africa. Dutch companies can offer support in the areas of efficient water usage and for instance supplying drought resistant varieties. In practice Dutch techniques don't always connect to the demand, for instance because they are too expensive. I see it as my task to inform companies of the local needs here in Kenya and Tanzania.

As a third priority I would like to mention fighting wildlife crime, for instance by offering support to the authorities in Kenya and Tanzania in flattening the export of ivory. That is a basic condition in preserving the lives of the elephants and rhinos in this region."

What is your main advice to Dutch companies?
“It really goes for all countries in Africa, companies that want to gain a foothold here quickly have to have stamina. This isn't the place for quick wins. Even more important: work together, form a cluster of companies from the same chain and make contact with parties in this country, both public and private. The chains from Dutch seeding material and decorative plant cultivation use this strategy. It has revealed itself to be successful."

Source: Agroberichten Buitenland
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