Dutch Protein Farmers: more homegrown plant proteins
The Producer Organisation Dutch Protein Farmers, founded by the 'Nederlandse Akkerbouw Vereniging' (Dutch Agriculture Association) and initiated by Foodvalley NL, is the first producer organisation of and for farmers of protein crops. Both organic and conventional farmers are welcome; farmers who already cultivate or want to cultivate protein crops, from Faba bean to lupine, from soy to chickpea. Together, they want to achieve sustainable and profitable protein cultivation, with fair prices for farmers.
The market for protein crops must change
For human consumption, and especially for animal feed, many protein-rich raw materials are transported from far away. For example, from Canada, South America, Russia or Ukraine. This can and must change according to the Dutch Protein Farmers. Farmers, processors, supermarkets, caterers, consumers and the national government can all benefit from Dutch leguminous protein crops. This will make us less dependent on imports, which contributes to the Dutch Protein Strategy. The Dutch Protein Farmers also contribute to more sustainable agriculture, a healthier soil and solving climate and nitrogen problems. To achieve this, the market for protein crops has to change drastically.
In order to achieve this, the Dutch Protein Farmers combines knowledge and strengths of farmers of leguminous protein crops. Through their cooperation, they have a stronger negotiating position and can obtain better contract conditions and prices. They are interesting for large buyers and end suppliers such as supermarkets and caterers; by working together, farmers can supply a larger volume of plant proteins.
Members also share practical sowing, growing and harvesting experiences and draw up a research agenda for the coming years. In this role, the Producer Organisation is also involved as a partner in the forthcoming Green Deal on Protein-rich Crops.
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Committed to protein crops from our own soil
Foodvalley's Innovation Leads Jeroen Willemsen (Protein Shift) and Jolijn Zwart-van Kessel (Circular Agrifood) initiated the Dutch Protein Farmers. Early 2021, Foodvalley NL - in cooperation with Ekoboerderij de Lingehof, Proeflab Wageningen and the Taskforce Korte Keten - brought together the first protein farmers. "Foodvalley NL is committed to a future-proof food system. It is our role to turn challenges into actions. In the cultivation of leguminous protein crops, sustainable agriculture and protein transition go hand in hand," says Jeroen. Colleague Jolijn adds: "Food security, continuity and local production are current topics. To make agriculture more sustainable, you need ecologically and economically sustainable production. It is no longer self-evident to get raw materials from far away. It is in the interest of all chain partners to offer farmers continuity with local production. I am therefore honoured that we can commit ourselves from Foodvalley NL to protein crops from our own soil."
Increasing local availability and consumption of plant-based proteins has the added benefits of greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen runoff reduction and increased biodiversity. It will help create the right balance between animal and plant proteins and contributes to the growth of new sustainable crops that adds to regenerative circular agriculture. That is what Foodvalley NL is committed to.
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Jolijn Zwart- van Kessel, Innovation Lead Circular Agrifood (left)
Jeroen Willemsen, Innovation Lead, Protein Shift (right)