Born and raised in a rural area, I have always been sensitive to the agricultural world and its realities on the ground. After having started with technical studies in agronomy in France, I subsequently decided to continue my education, focusing on more socio-economic topics and on sustainable urban development in Wageningen University. Lastly, I had the opportunity to finish my studies with impact and evaluation studies of extension services developed across South-East Asia by a horticultural seed company. It had the consequence to trigger my interest to work on topics such as capacity building, vulnerability reduction, reinforcement of the voice of farming communities or gender gap reduction in low and middle income countries.
Vegetable crops offer various advantages to small-scale farming communities such as a better access to more nutritious food, higher and more frequent cash inflow or job and income creation. Nonetheless, horticulture requires an important knowledge compared to staple crops. Benefiting from an expertise in tropical farming, Wageningen University & Research can act as a facilitator of knowledge transfer bringing other actors to build the capacity of farming communities.
Agriculture in low and middle income countries still represents a large share in the economy or can even be its backbone. Smallholder farmers represent an important part of the total number of farmers and produce a large volume of agricultural commodities. Nonetheless, they still follow traditional agriculture practices and face challenges such as weak access to means of production, low support and external events such as climate change or the volatility of the market prices.
Supporting change, through capacity building programs and fostering the development of the agri-sector, is an assiduous but necessary effort to overcome these challenges and become a basis for further improvements in farmers’ livelihoods. Today, the sustainability and resilience of agricultural practices are key words in extension programs, but the sustainability and resilience of farming as a professional activity and a sufficient source of earnings are also essential.
My colleagues and I, in the Field Crops business unit of Wageningen University & Research, are developing training programs for future farmer trainers from local governments or private sector professionals. By assisting them as well to develop knowledge transfer programs, we aim at increasing agricultural productivity and the quality of agricultural commodities, lowering the production costs and work towards a sustainable agricultural sector. Small-holder farmers, producing food for a large share of the population in their home countries, are, nonetheless, facing many challenges. Therefore, I consider maintaining our efforts towards finding and enforcing practical solutions as necessary to overcome these challenges and guarantee decent earnings and livelihoods.
In addition, I am also monitoring and evaluating some of these programs. The objective is to obtain a better understanding about what the outcomes of knowledge transfer programmes are, readjust them according to our findings for a better efficiency and relevance and reach the targeted outcomes. I am also working on the creation of an economic handbook about vegetable crops, which, in the end, will give a better overview of vegetable production.