As we have learned throughout our time with AFA, life-long learning is a staple throughout the agriculture industry. Today’s activities were no different as we spent time at both Food Valley and Wageningen University located in central Holland.
Our morning began at Food Valley where international director, Jeroen Wouters, hosted our group in the Wageningen office. Established in 2004, Food Valley is an independent industry that focuses on improving innovation strength by making optimal use of their knowledge network.
As a non-profit organization, the company’s goal is to act as a facilitator between industry research, partnering companies, universities and institutions. With eight of the top 25 companies in Holland being involved in agriculture, Jeroen stressed the importance of both collaboration and innovation within Holland agriculture, and throughout the world.
The rest of our day was spent at the university. As visiting students at Wageningen, our group had the opportunity to attend a lecture with current students, as well as meet with Jeroen Knol, director of the European Federation of Food Science and Technology (EFFoST). EFFoST serves as the European umbrella for the International Federation of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST0), with its U.S. counterpart being the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).
As a global fellow, it was very interesting to hear opinions and debate ideas during both sessions. Agriculturalists in Holland face similar issues such as global food security and public opinion that we see throughout the United States. Research and development is a sector of major importance and one that is constantly changing throughout the globe. With each individual region, union and country regulating their food production and consumer marketing differently, it takes a continuing effort in order to ensure that food exported in Holland is both labeled and marketed in proper fashion.
Culturally, it was neat to see students interacting at the university just like we would back home. This experience truly solidifies that no matter where you are in the world, students throughout vast cultures enjoy similar things: laughter, knowledge, friendship, wonder and maybe just a bit of social media too!
Meg Bennett, The Ohio State University