After almost 25 years, Agriterra is bidding farewell to its founder Kees Blokland who is retiring. On the afternoon of Thursday 7 October, a farewell reception for staff and invitees will be held in Musis in Arnhem, the place where the festive launch of Agriterra took place in 1998 and to which at least forty agricultural organisations were invited at the time.
Kees Blokland studied Economics and saw the need to establish Agriterra after spending many years in Nicaragua and after processing that experience into an extensive thesis. In it, he highlighted the crucial role of agricultural organisations for economic development. Agriterra bolstered hundreds of agricultural organisations under Blokland's leadership. Millions of farmers in thousands of local organisations and cooperatives benefit from that.
Blokland initiated the establishment of Agripool, agro-info.net, AgriCord and Agri-ProFocus to reach even more farmers. He is of the opinion that one should support farmers and growers via their organisations and cooperatives. It is precisely then that the gap between rich and poor is closed, that people start talking instead of fighting, and that one can accumulate wealth. Agro business that see a market in developing countries can benefit from such economic democratisation via the organised agriculture sector.
His areas of interest are agricultural organisations, economic development, the role of cooperatives, and the importance of employment opportunities. “At Agriterra, we select farmers who have organised themselves because they realise they do not need to wait for external parties to develop their businesses. Farmers who have passed the turning point and who take control of their development themselves through hard work and with their own funds. Those farmers absorb the experience and knowledge offered by colleagues from elsewhere like sponges. And then things really pick up.”
Marco Schouten has been appointed the new CEO of Agriterra. Schouten: “It is a great honour to follow in the footsteps of Kees Blokland and to shape the future of an impressive organisation like Agriterra further.”