visit worldbankA group of 11 World Bank officials working on food safety visited the organic Remeker farm in Lunteren, the Netherlands on Tuesday 10 November 2015. The group is visiting the Netherlands as part of a first ‘Learning journey on food safety’. The aim of the learning journey is to get state of-the-art insights from science and practice, have discussions with policy makers, interact with companies, visit stakeholder organizations and authorities involved in managing food safety in the Netherlands.

The exchange with the Centre for Natural Livestock Farming started with a presentation by Dr. Katrien van Hooft  after which the visitors discussed in small groups with three Dutch dairy farmers, two veterinary doctors and two knowledge institutions (VKON and BIO-KI)

The discussions focused on the E-Motive exchange programme with India and Africa, on sustainable dairy farming in Netherlands, and particularly around reduced used of antibiotics, including the One Health agenda, in the Netherlands.

The visitors were eager to learn how the Dutch government and private sector have been working together to reduce the sales of antibiotics. Awareness raising among Dutch dairy farmers led to farmers completely stopping the use of 3rd generation antibiotics in 2 years time (2010-2012).

There is now more openness among policy makers and practitioners to look for alternative solutions, including medicinal plants. Based on this experience, the urge was indicated to the World Bank officials that they could also develop policies in their countries to stop using 3rd generation antibiotics in livestock farming and safe them for future healing situations in case of urgency.

During the farm tour, Jan Dirk van der Voort explained his philosophy of closed-cycle dairy farming with Jersey cows. Remeker farm is a business model that allows 7 households to earn an income from 90 cows. The award-winning organic cheeses are of high quality. Whereas the Remeker farm was already for a longer period working organic, only when they stopped using antibiotics 12 years ago, the fertile soil- rich feed – healthy cow – quality cheese – happy consumer chain became more in balance.

Discussions are now to explore how the WorldBank head office and respective countries can link with the lead countries in the Natural Livestock Association, i.e. Netherlands, India, Ethiopia and Uganda. To be continued!