In this regular series, we profile advisors to the Nourishing the Planet project. This week, we feature Jan Nijhoff, Regional Coordinator for COMESA-MSU in Lusaka, Zambia.
Jan Nijhoff, Regional Coordinator for COMESA-MSU and Advisor to Nourishing the Planet. (Photo: Bernard Pollack)
Name: Jan Nijhoff
Affiliation: Michigan State University
Location: Lusaka, Zambia
Bio: Jan Nijhoff works for the Department of Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics, at Michigan State University, and is currently based at the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia where he coordinates a regional project portfolio that focuses on policy and investment analysis and regional policy dialogue.
Quote on NTP: We work largely on agriculture policy with COMESA, supporting them with analytical work, helping them build capacity among their own policy makers to design policies that are right and promote regional integration. In doing so, we deal with issues of agriculture trade and investment, creating the best investment climate for increasing agriculture investment and productivity. The region is going to need a lot more food in the coming decade and we believe technology development and the promotion of trade to create a demand for the products being produced is part of the answer. In our own way at the regional level we try to make a contribution there. I think we’re at a very interesting juncture in the development arena so we are really happy to share with you what we have and what we do and to see how it all fits into the Nourishing the Planet publication that is forthcoming.
What is the connection between agriculture and alleviating global hunger and poverty? In many developing countries that are now emerging economies, agricultural development has been the first phase of an economy-wide structural transformation process that has generated other economic activity and eventually resulted in broader economic growth and poverty reduction.
What kinds of policy and economic policy changes would you like to see implemented immediately to address the needs of small, medium, and large-scale farmers? Agricultural development requires public and private investments, supported by sound policies. In order to attract private investments in everything that makes the sector tick —i.e. technology, input markets, farmer service delivery, processing, product marketing and trade, and finance— a number of public investments are also required, including road infrastructure, irrigation, adaptive research, and education. Equally important for a conducive investment and business climate are government policies that encourage and facilitate local and international trade. Regional Economic Communities, such as COMESA, are increasingly playing an important role in harmonizing policies among member states. Among other tricky policy issues, COMESA is working towards facilitating regional trade in seed and livestock, and encouraging free trade in food commodities in order to create market opportunities for farmers and increase food security at the regional level.