This is a race with no end
Thursday, 09 December 2010 10:59Just one of the heartfelt cries uttered yesterday. Which is curious, as it was after all the end of TransForum that was being celebrated yesterday. And then again perhaps not, as many of those working in agriculture will be continuing to apply the experience that has been built up.
TransForum General Manager Henk van Latesteijn's biggest wish: 'to roll up our sleeves and set to work, with sustainable agriculture and economic benefit as the starting point.' This regularly received a show of support at Priva in De Lier. It was observed that those of us in the Netherlands know much more about how to make agriculture sustainable than we often let on. The most important thing is that we do in fact turn that knowledge to account, by constructively setting to work together and not getting caught up in the differences of opinion that are only to be expected. An investment fund on which agricultural entrepreneurs with innovative ideas could draw is widely regarded as an important lever for achieving results.
Van Latesteijn offered the first copy of the book 'Duurzaam Agrarisch Ondernemen, het stedelijk gebied als motor voor nieuwe bedrijvigheid' to Priva CEO Meiny Prins. On the basis of nine case studies, the book describes the six characteristics that successful entrepreneurs have in common and is designed to act as a source of inspiration for all Dutch agricultural entrepreneurs.
TransForum Chairman Herman de Boon observed that there were four important preconditions for effective sustainabilisation:
First, an enterprise-minded government that was prepared to invest in the facilitation of innovations. Not by taking the helm itself but by enabling others to experiment and make mistakes, for example by copying – or preferably improving on – TransForum's methods of working in other places.
Secondly a system of knowledge that is capable of helping solve the practical problems that then arise. That becomes possible only if cooperation in socially important innovations is rewarded by that system of knowledge. This calls for creative forms of remuneration – of which there are all too few at present.
Thirdly groups in society who manage to convert their objections or concerns into design criteria – and who then help work towards a desired improvement.
Fourthly a large group of entrepreneurs who are prepared to meet those challenges and turn them into fresh opportunities. This will however mean that they need to be sidelined to some extent.
Following the promise to establish a revolving fund for agricultural innovation, Annemie Burger, director-general of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, literally turned out the lights at TransForum at 7 p.m. by pulling out the plug.
TransForum is stopping in the expectation that the dream expressed by chairman of the Southern Agriculture and Horticulture Organisation (ZLTO), Hans Huijbers, will become a reality and that as the most intensive agricultural region the Netherlands will have created in ten years' time sustainable solutions to today's problems.