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Wageningen bids farewell to Krijn Poppe and Ruerd Ruben

Wageningen University and Research bids farewell to Krijn Poppe and Ruerd Ruben with a three-day online lunch symposium: 'Dutch Agriculture, European Policies and Global Food System Transitions'.

Farewell to Krijn Poppe
Krijn Poppe (born in 1955) joined the Agricultural Economics Institute – the forerunner of what is now Wageningen Economic Research – in 1981. He soon became responsible for reporting on income development and policy impacts. As part of his management role, he contributed to innovations in the institute including the development of new areas of consumer research, supply chain research and ICT. The institute also came to focus much more on European projects. “We did a lot of work at Wageningen Economic Research on developing data systems for farmers,” says Krijn Poppe. “I’m proud of that.”

In an excerpt from his forthcoming farewell speech, Krijn Poppe states: “The corona crisis could trigger greater governmental interference in the economy, and consumer behaviour being more influenced by concerns about health, climate and biodiversity. At the same time, the extensive digitisation of society signifies a new phase of modernisation, with the emergence of robots and digital platforms possibly being comparable to the emergence of the tractor and pest controls in the 1950s.”

Figurehead of Wageningen Economic Research
As a figurehead at Wageningen Economic Research, Krijn Poppe has spent the past few years concentrating on policy advice. He also spent some time on secondment at the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality as Chief Science Officer. In Brussels, he helped raise the profile of the Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System, and advocated for agricultural policy to include food policy in order to take account of the impact of other parties in the supply chain. Within Wageningen he led multidisciplinary research programmes on transition and resilience.

Farewell to Ruerd Ruben
Ruerd Ruben (born in 1954) has spent the past six years as a professor at Wageningen University and lead researcher at Wageningen Economic Research focusing on impact analyses of food system interventions. He worked closely with IFPRI in Washington DC as part of that. Previously, he worked as a professor at Radboud University and as a policy advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is now leading the work on an IFAD report on food transitions for the UN Food Systems Summit in New York next autumn.

“I’m proud that we have managed to shift the discussion away from just increasing food production, towards a consideration of what makes a better food system,” says Ruben. “The food system approach involves a far greater consideration of consumer perspectives and of how production is linked to consumption. This concept has now been widely adopted around the world. Six years ago, the concept of food systems was still unknown. Nobody used that term.”

“There’s a paradigm now where agriculture is thought of not just in terms of farmers and food, but also in terms of its influence on health.” That’s the essence of it, according to Ruben. “We’re not just agricultural experts, we’re doctors too. If you work on food issues, that work is of interest not just to ministries of agriculture but also to ministries of finance and health.”

Not just agricultural experts, but doctors too
“We’re seeing that now with Covid-19. If we can make it clear that healthy food is part of the solution to a social problem, it means we can get more people on board. We’ve managed to work out that $1 invested into better food delivers a saving of $16 on healthcare costs. A major part of that is ensuring that poor people have better access to fresh vegetables.”

Source: Wageningen University & Research

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