The first Participants’ Council meeting of 2012 was held on 5 April at Aequor in Ede. The goal of the meeting was both to present results from 2011, to discover new tracks for the next phase (2013-2016) and to create a network and business opportunity for members.
Though it took place in a busy period of anxiety about reforms and budget cuts in development cooperation, the meeting was well attended by 36 participants from member organisations.
The afternoon was opened with the commemoration of former Board member Erik Heinen (Oikocredit), who sadly passed away on 30 March. Then Kees Wantenaar, the new Chair of Agri-ProFocus, was introduced by Board member Caroline Figuères (IICD), after which he officially opened the floor and welcomed the participants heartily.
Aequor gave a short presentation about its activities, drawing attention to the importance of adding a focus on vocational agricultural education to the partnership’s goals. Next, new member CBI introduced itself to the other members of the partnership. CBI provides a network of actors in many countries, consisting of SMEs, Business Support Organisations and local exports, and a network of importers in the Netherlands to the Agri-ProFocus members. By joining Agri-ProFocus CBI, being on the marketing end of the production chain, expects to gain more (access to) knowledge on the production side.
Also on the agenda were the Agri-ProFocus milestones of 2011, presented by means of the draft Annual Report ‘Agri-Hubs take the lead’. Last year, Agri-ProFocus achieved improved links with Dutch policy, developed its knowledge agenda, organized two expert meetings, created a revised Theory of Change, founded two new Agri-Hubs, increasingly involved the private sector and doubled its online platforms’ participants – among others. A special update was given on the consultation with members regarding the planned modalities of the new PPP facility Food security and Business.
The second part of the afternoon was devoted to looking ahead. Commissioned by Agri-ProFocus, consultant Kees Zevenbergen had interviewed around 25 Agri-ProFocus members and other connections. His engaging presentation of findings and the following group discussion led to advice on how to position Agri-ProFocus in a changing Dutch context of food security policy and private sector development.
Director Hedwig Bruggeman presented the strategic planning process for the upcoming months. Agri-ProFocus will form a reference group of members, which will discuss Agri-ProFocus’ achievements so far, and what kind of set-up and strategic focus the partnership should have in the years to come.