Postharvest Network mission in Vietnam in cooperation with the Municipality of Oss 17-23 October 2015

Since September 2013 the city of Oss has a strong relationship with the province of An Giang in the Mekong Delta in the south of Vietnam.
From 17 till 23 October, Oss – as the Agrofood Capital of North Brabant – organized a mission in the south of Vietnam with a delegation of companies and universities. Dirk ’t Hooft represented the Postharvest Network in this delegation.

By Dirk ’t Hooft, Chair Postharvest Network

Under the leadership of the Dutch mayor of Oss, Ms Buijs-Glaudemans, and in close cooperation with the members of the delegation, including Agrifood Capital, HAS University of Applied Sciences and Avans University of Applied Sciences from Den Bosch, several presentations were given and meetings were held with the government of South Vietnam and the Peoples Committees of the provinces of Can Tho and An Giang.

Knowledge was exchanged with five different universities in Can Tho and An Giang. Agreements were made to draft joint projects in the field of postharvest agrofood chains, aimed at reducing food losses and improving food quality and food security. Vietnam is very interested in applying postharvest knowledge and expertise from the Netherlands. In the coming months various initiatives will be elaborated in close cooperation with HAS, AVANS and the Postharvest Network.

Please follow this link to watch the news item about the mission by the regional television of the Vietnamese province CanTho:


Post-harvest Management Workshops Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina – 19-23 October 2015

Organized on behalf of Mr Maarten Wegen, Agriculture Attaché, Agriculture Department, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with Regional Offices for Agriculture in both Serbia as well as in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In cooperation with the University of Kragujevac, Faculty of Agronomy in Cacak, Serbia and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Two Dutch experts, Mr Romke Wustman (Wustman Potato Consultancy and freshly retired Senior potato specialist from Wageningen University & Research centre) and Mrs Françoise van den Broek (Business Developer Dutch Postharvest Network, specialized in agro-logistics and supply chain management) were invited by the Embassy to give their views and share their expertise on post-harvest management in general and potatoes in particular. They arrived Monday 19 October 2015 and had a preliminary meeting on all the details of the program for the upcoming week at the Dutch Embassy in Belgrade. They also had the chance to meet part of the Embassy team, responsible for agriculture in Serbia.

First Post-harvest Management Seminar

Tuesday 21 October the first Post-harvest Management Seminar took place at the University of Kragujevac, Faculty of Agronomy, Cacak, Serbia. Amongst the speakers were the State Secretary from the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Zeljko Radosevic, the Vice Dean of the Faculty, Dr Ivan Glisic and Prof Dr Drago Milosevic, professor of phytopathology. The seminar was very well attended. Amongst the participants were Mr Vladimir Grujovic, Head of the City Administration for Local Economic Development, City of Cacak, representatives of commercial businesses such as Pepsico, representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture – Phytosanitary Directorate and Extension /Advisory Service Unit, local government, representatives of local growers’ association and of course potato growers and students of the Faculty.

Mrs Françoise van den Broek spoke about ‘Reducing food losses & increasing value’, Mr Romke Wustman spoke on two subjects: ‘The need to store potatoes’ and ‘Technology for potato storage’. Besides the two Dutch expert speakers, also two very well adept local speakers joined the seminar: Mr Zivko Bugarcic, who spoke about ‘Potato production technologies’ and Prof Zoran Brocic, who spoke about ‘Requirements of local markets – packaging and marketing, access to other markets’.

After the seminar a delegation of special invitees joined a late lunch, after which the local and Dutch experts and the Agriculture Attaché left for the next stop: Zlatibor.

Field visits

On Wednesday 22 October the delegation made two field visits to potato storage facilities of Solanum Product Company in the vicinity of Rogatica, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Before the field visits, the experts were received by the Mayor of the municipality of Rogatica, Mr Tomislav Puhalac. The first storage facility had been set-up with Dutch expertise and Dutch investments from the former Private Sector Investment programme (PSI). Mr Romke Wustman has been involved as an expert in this project in 2013 as well. Interesting aspect of the second potato company was that it was part of a voluntary cooperation between eighteen potato growers.

After the field visits the delegation of local and Dutch attendees left for the hotel in Sarajevo. In the evening they had a very nice and welcoming pre-dinner drink and enjoyable dinner at the residence of the Dutch Ambassador in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mr Jurriaan Kraak and his wife, Mrs Kraak. Together with Mr Alexandre Prieto and Mr Mokhtar Ahdouga of the United Nations Development Programme, Srebenica Regional Recovery Programme and Leila Fetahagic of the Dutch Embassy in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Second Post-harvest Management Seminar

On Tuesday 22 October the second Post-harvest Management Seminar took place at Hotel Grand, Sarajevo. This seminar was opened by the Dutch Ambassador, Mr Jurriaan Kraak.

Attendees consisted of potato growers, employees of Extension Service Programs, local governments and potato and soft fruit processing industry (such as EKO-PLOD) from the wider periphery of Sarajevo (about three to four hours drive by car) and Mrs Loes Lammerts, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Sarajevo.

Institute of Agriculture, Phytosanitary Laboratory

On Friday 23 October the Dutch experts visited the Institute of Agriculture, Phytosanitary Laboratory of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The team of experts and Embassy delegate, Mrs Leila Fetahagic were welcomed by Dr Omer Kurtovic, Director and his very motivated staff members. The latter were proud to show their new facility and modern equipment.

Next steps will be defined in the near future. They could consist of a first investigation of the most important product/market combinations, followed by the establishment of a first business case and in parallel the set-up of an agro-logistics platform with both local as well as Dutch companies represented in the Balkan countries.

Some of the current bottlenecks

  • Many small holders, complicated land ownership and complex land related issues;
  • Funding of projects;
  • Need for capacity building;
  • Hiring freeze civil servants also for phytosanitary laboratories, different inspection services etc.);
  • Overall governmental vision (for the Balkan Region as a whole) on the development of the agriculture sector;
  • Economic situation and business climate;
  • Trade facilitation;
  • Lack of proper business cases, understanding of market opportunities.

Françoise van den Broek, Business Developer Postharvest Network
Romke Wustman, Wustman Potato Consultancy

Movie “Dutch Expertise to reduce food losses in the fresh chains”

In the Netherlands knowledge, skills and experience have led to optimized logistical processes from harvest to consumption of perishable agricultural products. Every link of the chain is adapted to the specific needs of a product and as a consequence losses in the logistics food chain are reduced to a minimum.

The solutions created in the Netherlands focus on quality control, globally accepted coding standards, standardized packaging sizes, tracking & tracing; and refrigerated transport.

So, in the Netherlands we have the knowledge, skills and experience to restrict losses in the logistics food chain to a minimum. This expertise can be of high interest and value for other countries: solutions can be adapted to local circumstances and needs to improve underperformances in postharvest logistical processes. Contact the Postharvest Network through to make use of this Dutch knowledge and improve your supply chain.

Watch the movie on YouTube:

Start of “Fit-to-Purpose” approach in Agro-food Value Chains

The Fit-to-Purpose programme is an initiative by the Postharvest Network in cooperation with Pure Birds and supported by the Food & Business Knowledge Platform. The objective of this programme is to stimulate entrepreneurship and innovation of Dutch companies in agro-food value chains in developing countries. The approach is aimed at the development of simple and sustainable solutions that have the potential to create new market opportunities for companies ranging from large multinationals to SMEs and start-ups.

The essence of this programme’s approach lies in the exchange of strategy development between companies operating in agro-food business, and their strategic orientation in creating more business in developing countries as based on local demands and needs. Societal impact, reducing postharvest losses, improving food security, operating more efficiently in agro-food processes – all of these focus points are considered in the strategy development of products and services within this approach.

Key questions for the programme’s approach include:

  • How to realize an effective strategy?
  • How can you support each other?
  • What can you learn from each other?

The Fit-to-Purpose strategy is a newly founded viewpoint in agro-food chains where creating added value in development countries, markets and target groups is key. Most companies are only partly executing a strategy, while others are orientating from it; yet only a few companies see it as a vast opportunity to have a total and integrated strategy approach for their products and future development of products and services.

Companies working in agro-food chains can become inspired by frugal innovation strategies in “doing more and better with less” with successful examples as seen in non-food and consumer markets. Take for instance the automotive company and the strategic partnership Renault-Nissan. With a CMF-A platform, this French-Japanese alliance is developing affordable high-standard energy-efficient cars for the growing demand of consumers in developing countries.

Kick-off session

The Fit-to-Purpose approach aims to gain inspiration and learn from other companies about how to develop and execute an effective strategy to stimulate innovation in agro-food value chains in developing countries.

During the first Fit-to-Purpose kick-off session on August 27, 2015 at the New World Campus in The Hague, experiences were shared from various companies including the Cofounder of the Dutch Agricultural Development and Trading Company (DADTCO). DADTCO’s specific business strategy and strategic choices were shared as that they made a breakthrough development in the cassava food chain in Africa, which led to an eventual sustainable and profitable business model. Firstly, their strategic focus was to develop a decentralized production approach in rural countryside areas with the processing technology Autonomous Mobile Processing Units (AMPU) created by DADTCO. Their second strategic focus point was to create an intensive collaboration between local African farmers by developing common product development and a shared earning model with sales in local markets. Please see the textbox below about DADTCO and a soon to be released flyer.

Short introduction to the Dutch Agricultural Development and Trading Company DADTCO, the Dutch Agricultural Development and Trading Company, wants a breakthrough in the underdeveloped cassava agro-food supply chain regarding the way cassava is seen, grown and processed into high-quality products, and its later contribution to the increasing demand for food and the local employment need in Africa.In the treatment of cassavas, there are many inefficiencies. Cassavas must be treated within 36 hours or the quality of the product reduces significantly. Due to infrastructure complications in developing countries, treatment of the product on the short-term is not easy or sometimes not possible. This then results in production taking place in a centrally situated manufactory.DADTCO has developed a mobile treatment unit called Autonomous Mobile Processing Unit (AMPU) where cassava can now be processed into a paste or cake on the original land in rural areas. With this, the local farmers receive a guaranteed demand and DADTCO takes on the responsibility for further sales in the market. AMPU is actually an existing technology from the Dutch potato industry and can easily be operated by local workers.

Cassava is then made into flour and starch, which can be used for brewing beer. SAB Miller in Mozambique is a buyer of these cassava product and uses them to brew beer. DADTCO has the ambition to create new products such as bread with cassava flour. Nestlé’s new food applications are also exploring the use of cassava in maggi-blocks. An arrangement with food multinationals operating in African food markets still needs to be agreed upon. Although the possibilities of cassava products are large, companies hardly market and make use of cassava products in their production processes. The hesitation of these companies is because the unknown application possibilities of cassava products, as well as (trade-)system barriers such as internal price calculations of multinational and tax benefits.

DADTCO operates in several countries in Africa. For more information, visit

The company Geerlofs also provided interesting insights at the kick-off session, about their strategy orientation in developing cooling technical systems for international markets. They see a growing evolution in the maturity of markets in developing regions in Africa, Latin America and Asia, yet this will require a different approach with a more local mind-set and collaboration with partners. Geerlofs showed some interest in other companies’ approaches in the agro-food chains in the local markets and their business experiences in collaborations and local business contacts.

An innovative entrepreneur in the agro-food value chains is Yellow Pallet, a company building its roots in Latin America, specifically in Costa Rica, with local partners converting banana stems into pallets. The stems are left over after harvest and the pallets are then used in transportation of the banana boxes to the Western food retail market. Yellow Pallet shared their experiences in Latin America and is interested in setting up local partnerships as witnessed successfully in India with local markets in banana production.

Additional issues that were raised by other companies and entrepreneurs included:

  • What are the experiences of developing and executing a strategy in countries of Latin America (such as Costa Rica), Africa (as Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria) and Asia (India)?
  • What are meaningful sustainable strategic choices? What is the meaning of a CSR approach?
  • How do you select reliable business partners in the countries having a common undertaking? Who is willing to invest?
  • Who are right finance parties? How do you deal with policymaking and development aid initiatives?

The next session with interested companies will be held at the end of 2015. In the upcoming session, the focus will be on companies and entrepreneurs who are eager to learn about developing effective strategies in developing countries. Sharing strategic choices, experiences and contacts with others will also be included in the session.

Are you interested or want to know more about this topic? Please contact Pure Birds (Coen Faber, or Postharvest Network (Michael Jurriaans, for more information.

Postharvest Network present at No More Food to Waste conference

The Netherlands, together with the FAO, organized the international conference No More Food to Waste – Global action to stop food waste and food losses, held from June 16 till June 19, 2015 in the World Forum convention center in The Hague, the Netherlands.

The No More Food to Waste Conference aimed to bring together a wide range of relevant stakeholders in the food system, including governments, international organizations, private sector, non-governmental organizations, philanthropic foundations, local community producers, and the scientific community to share experiences and demonstrate combined action in partnerships in the food chain.

The Postharvest Network was present at the conference together with the Food & Business Knowledge Platform (F&BKP). They had an information booth and prepared a side event: What we need to know: how to enhance the agrofood supply chain efficiency for food & nutrition security.

Recently within the F&BKP research has been conducted on relations between the reduction of post-harvest losses and food security. The main conclusion of this study is that reducing the wastage issue cannot be solved in a single stroke. Interventions, although important, often do not make a significant contribution on their own, but can do so when embedded in a broader and integrated value chain or food system approach with an eye on context specific circumstances. This valuable insight has practical implications for solutions to reduce losses and improve food security; When food losses occur in a supply chain, there is not one single problem owner to address. A typical supply chain involves several actors without one actor being responsible for the total supply chain. So how to change the supply chain in order to reduce losses and improve food security? What makes one of the involved actors move? What kind of instruments are needed?

A discussion with the audience focused on these questions and on identifying the kind of interventions that might work when improving a food supply chain. Also the need to develop an international Community of Practice on (knowledge for) interventions for value chain improvement was discussed.

Download the flyer of the side event.

Calls for Proposal

Recently three interesting calls for proposals have been announced: by the World Bank, TradeMark East Africa and TopSector Agri&Food.

World Bank: MultiDonor Trust Fund for Sustainable Logistics

The MultiDonor Trust Fund for Sustainable Logistics (MDTF-SL) is launching a call for proposals to fund studies in three sustainable logistics thematic areas:

  •         Green supply chains,
  •         Agrologistics, and
  •         Urban logistics and portcity development.

Deadline for proposals: 10th of April 2015

The following types of activities are eligible for financing through the MDTF-SL:

  •     Capacity building, technical assistance and training;
  •     Policy analysis, research and diagnostics;
  •     Knowledge management and dissemination;
  •     Workshops and conferences;
  •     Data collection and development of analytical tools;
  •     Information (electronic) Systems for network building and knowledge sharing.

No more than two projects per country will be approved for support per year. Projects may receive maximum support of up to US$300,000 to be funded for up to one year, though exceptional cases for longer timeframes may be considered with justification.

Please visit the World Bank website for more information.

TradeMark East Africa: Logistics Innovation for Trade

TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), an organisation supporting the growth of trade in the East African region, announced the European launch of its Logistics Innovation for Trade (LIFT) fund for transport and logistics companies interested in doing business in the East African Community (Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania).

The LIFT challenge fund managed by TMEA with funding support from the UKs Department for International Development provides grants ranging from US$200,000 to US$750,000 to companies that are operating (or interested in operating) in the East African Community (EAC) to develop and test new ideas that could reduce the cost and time of transport and logistics in the region. The LIFT fund is open to companies from all over the world. Applications are particularly welcomed from logistics and transportation companies in the world.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Lead applicant can either be a local or foreign company /organisation that will operate in the EAC;
  • For commercial projects, lead applicant must be a For-Profit organization. For project promoting reforms, non-profit organisations will also be considered;
  • Project must hold potential to reduce transport and logistics costs;
  • Funding is for the project, not the corporate entity;
  • For business led projects at least 50% of funds for the project should be provided by the applicant. For non-profits 30%;
  • Organization should have proven capacity to implement the project;
  • The project must demonstrate the activities that will be funded by LIFT are new and that the project would not go ahead in this form without LIFT funding.

Deadline for proposals: 31 March 2015.

Please visit the LIFT Fund website for more information.

TopSector Agri&Food: Seed Money projects

On 16 February 2015, the call for Seed Money Projects has been opened by the Dutch TopSector Agri&Food. Seed money projects are projects aiming at starting innovative international partnerships with Dutch SMEs in the agri-food sector. The search for the right partners and the development of a proper business model is central to the project. The aim of the project is to solve a local system problem. A system problem is a problem that can only be solved when Business, Government and Research institutions collaborate. Prerequisite for a seed money project is that a local problem owner (companies and or governments) participates in the project.

Results from earlier calls indicate that Seed Money Projects are a good way to explore international opportunities and where the business model is helpful to find the right network partners. All international public-private partnership projects that have received a positive assessment in 2014 from the TopSector Agri&Food, have started as a Seed Money Project. Budget for eight projects of 50,000 each is available.

More information can be found at (only Dutch). For more information, please contact Willie van den Broek, telephone +31 317 481317.

Launch of Postharvest Network

On December 4, 2014 the Postharvest Network  was launched during a kick-off event in the Hof van Wageningen. The Postharvest Network aims to reduce food losses by implementing practical and proven solutions in the food supply chain of fresh products. It is a network of Dutch specialized companies, knowledge institutes like Wageningen University and the Dutch Ministries of Foreign and Economic Affairs.

The Dutch government has strongly contributed to the launch of the Postharvest Network and challenged it to develop concrete projects to reduce food losses with market partners. The national government contributes actively (also financially) to this process.

During the event, Roald Lapperre, Deputy Director-General of Agrofood at the Ministry of Economic Affairs said: ‘The world population will rise to 9 billion people. More than half of them will live in cities and the rural population will be aging even more. How do we ensure that everyone gets enough food? This is a huge challenge. In addition, up to 40% of the harvest is lost in the food supply chain. Reducing these food losses contributes significantly to the reduction of food shortage’.

The Ministries of Economic Affairs and Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands, together with Wageningen University and Research Centre and the business community in the Netherlands, therefore took the initiative to establish the Postharvest Network.

Marcel Vernooij, a member of the management team of the department of Sustainable Economic Development of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs added: ’Dutch companies and knowledge institutions have very practical knowledge to reduce food losses. By starting the Postharvest Network we want to make this knowledge more accessible’.

Led by Project Manager Dirk ‘t Hooft (former Director of the Holland International Distribution Council), the Postharvest Network is working on its first projects in India, Mexico and Egypt.
‘t Hooft stated: ‘The Postharvest Network focuses on reducing food losses in the agrifood supply chain. Through improved collaboration of parties involved in the whole supply chain, the food losses have already been reduced’.

At the request of SCA, a large Indian logistics company, Dinalog (the Dutch Institute for Logistics) explored the bottlenecks in the supply chain of tomatoes and bananas together with the Wageningen Food & Biobased Research Centre. Liesbeth Staps of Dinalog described: ‘We explored the entire chain from the perspective of local farmers and we involved them in our approach. Such an approach is unique in India and leads to new insights and breakthroughs’. The partners in the Postharvest Network are now, together with their members, investigating how they can help solve India’s problems in this area. Herman de Boon, Chairman of the Committee of Recommendation of the Postharvest Network said: ‘The Network will only fly if there is a sound business case underlying it. Before reaching an acceptable business case, you have to invest time and money. It is great that the government helps us with small funds to develop the targeted business case. We will certainly respond in a positive way to the challenge of the government’.