The Agricultural Counselor, Ingrid Korving, is saying Kwaheri to Kenya
Times flies …….after 5 years of working in Kenya, Ingrid Korving, the agricultural counsellor for Kenya and Tanzania at the Netherlands embassy will be leaving in the mid of June 2022 to the Netherlands for the preparation for her next position as the agricultural counsellor for Vietnam. In this interview we asked her to share her experiences of working and living in Kenya.
How would you describe your work and activities of the last years?
When I look back on my work and activities, the first thing that comes in my mind is working closely together with my agricultural teams in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. There is a saying in Africa: “If you want to go fast go alone if you want to go far go together” and I could not agree more. Because of the cooperation, commitment, and hard work of my teams I can look back at many projects, programs, events and also successes. As an agricultural counsellor, I could not done it without my teams and I really want to thank them for all their support.
The second thing I would like to mention is the focus on the private sector development in the agricultural sector in Kenya. It is my opinion, that projects and programs are more sustainable if companies, sector organizations etc. are closely involved. For example the Dutch private sector can bring its expertise and knowledge to help and tackle specific needs and challenges in agricultural value chains in Kenya. Working in Public, Private Partnerships (PPP’s) and consortia has been a method that I stimulated as agricultural counselor. It has proven to be and successful method in Kenya.
What do you consider to be highlights in your work?
There are many highlights in my job, from meeting enthusiastic entrepreneurs with great ideas to brokering between Kenyan and Dutch companies or to solve market access problems between our two countries. The nice thing about being an agricultural counsellor is that you are working in all the dimensions of the agriculture sector and with private and public stakeholders. It is a very dynamic job.
I think one of the highlights is the establishment of agricultural working group between the governments of Kenya and the Netherlands in June, 2019. The agricultural working group shows the strong relationship and commitment of both countries to work together and share knowledge, expertise and technology in the field of sustainable agriculture. This in turn stimulates agricultural investments and trade between Kenya and the Netherlands.
Also I tried, together with my team, to make the agricultural department of the Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi more visible, approachable and informative. We started with our agricultural newsletters, publishing articles, but also organizing more meetings and events on specific themes topics. A recent example is the launching of the brochure “Kenya and the Netherlands working together toward circular agriculture in Kenya”.
Another highlight is definitely our efforts on the agro cool logistics in Kenya and the transformation within the horticultural sector from air transport to sea transport. In the beginning of 2021 we started with a study on “Sea freight opportunities to accelerate Kenya’s agricultural exports”. In November 2021, we presented the outcomes during the event “A sustainable trade route for Kenya - Unlocking opportunities for greener growth through sea freight” together with Kenya Flower Council and the High Commission of the United Kingdom in Nairobi.
In April of this year, the Dutch Minister Liesje Schreinemacher for International Trade and Development Cooperation signed a letter of intent with the Kenyan Minister of Transport Mr. Macharia on the share ambition to improve the connection of ports through a “cool logistics corridor”. This enables perishables such as flowers and vegetables to be transported by ship in special refrigerated container. As the agricultural counsellor I was very much involved in the whole process and it is very exciting to see the first result imbedded in an agreement between the Kenya and the Netherlands (read more here).
What did you learn in Kenya?
Although I worked in Africa for many years, living in Kenya gave me some new insides also about myself. Being patient for example was not coming very natural to me, during my time in Kenya I started to embrace it and also the fact that some things will not always go as you planned. I learned in Kenya to go with the flow and find solutions on the way. That also means that you need to think out of the box and let go of some of the fixed structures or ways of working.
What will you be missing the most of Kenya and what not?
I’m going to miss a lot, friends and colleagues, but especially the friendly and helpful people of Kenya. The nice climate, the different landscapes from the coast to the mountains, the always impressive wildlife. The sounds and the smell of Kenya when you wake up in the countryside. What I won’t be missing is ugali, the national dish of Kenya. In the 5 years that I stayed in Kenya I tried to love it like most Kenyans but I could never got used to the structure and taste.
Of course the team will miss Ingrid immensely as well. We would like to thank her for all her dedicated effort to her work, the team and the Embassy. The new agricultural counsellor, Mr. Bart Pauwels will arrive mid July.