Sustainable and Circular Agrifood System: from More to Better

The Netherlands and Indonesia share the view that the future of food production worldwide is an urgent issue. The disruptions caused by COVID-19 have led to supply surpluses in some cases, and other cases disclose the dumping of perishable products in particular with the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sustainable and Circular Agrifood System

Moreover, significant decrease in demand from the food service sector has created challenges for food producers and processors, locally and globally.

The changes caused by this crisis on our food system are substantial; and the implications to consumers, governments, and corporations alike are rather noteworthy. Whether these changes are structural and here to stay, and whether they accelerate important trends we have witnessed in the past few years, remains to be seen. However, vulnerabilities in our global food system are evident, and worrying.

Aiming for joint actions to contribute to the world’s effort towards an inclusive recovery in the agrifood sectors, the Netherlands Embassy in Indonesia (IND), Malaysia (MAL) and Singapore (SIN) collectively organized the webinar on 24 March 2021with their counterparts in the countries. This event also marked the  arrival and initial engagement of the new agriculture counsellor, Joost van Uum, and to achieve the following objectives:

  • Introduce the Netherlands’ vision on the Circular Agriculture, what is behind this perspective, and why it matters, especially in the (post) pandemic era;
  • To exchange views and find common grounds between the Dutch Circular Agriculture in the agrifood system and the local sustainability and circular practices in the partner countries;
  • To identify key gaps and opportunities in the existing agrifood system in the partner countries for multi-stakeholders collaboration.

Circular Agriculture for All

The Netherlands speaker from Wageningen University & Research, Saskia Visser, presented The Netherlands Vision on Circular Agriculture. This concept proposes to break this downward spiral by moving towards circular agriculture—also known as closed-loop agriculture, a method of farming with nature, rather than against it. It shows us what’s possible by farming in harmony with natural cycles. It shows us the enormous resilience and self-healing potential of nature. Circular Agriculture sees the soil as billion organisms churning away at decaying life forms, rejuvenate death to life. And that is the principle of circular agriculture.

Andrew McCue from the Netherlands’  Metabolic shared his passion about food and cities, and even more so about Making the Connections to Build a Fundamentally Sustainable, Just, and Enjoyable Future. The reputation of the Netherlands as a hub of sustainable cities and high tech agriculture drew him to Amsterdam where Metabolic as a sustainability consultant and business developer for projects in Agrifood and Circular Cities.

A complete picture on the attractiveness of Sustainable and Circular Principles in Agrifood System was elaborated by Ir. R. Anang Noegroho Setyo Moeljono, MEM, the Agrifood director of the Indonesia ‘s Ministry of National Development Planning. Key highlight of Pak Anang was Indonesia’s Program Priority: Increasing Availability, Accessibility and Quality of Food. The plan of national actions  to achieve it includes: Increasing quality, safety, fortification and bio-fortification of food consumption; Increasing availability, price stability and sustainability of food supply, including aquacultural food; Increasing productivity and sustainability of agricultural human resources, including market access; Increasing productivity and sustainability of agricultural natural resources, including agriculture digitalization; Improving national food systems and food governance.

Next Step

With a full attendance of the key counterparts it was obvious to everyone that the Netherlands Circular Agriculture is remarkably applicable for Indonesia. As healthy soil is essential for plant, Circular Agriculture starts at the bottom, with restoring soil fertility. Healthy soil limits nitrogen losses to air and water. It aims to minimize inputs of concentrate feed and chemical fertilizer as well as outputs of harmful substances and waste.

In Circular Agriculture, we try to close the loop as locally as possible: let us flourish the farms at the local level, within Indonesia and within the Netherlands, or across national borders. The motto is: Do it locally if possible, and regionally or internationally if needed.