Seed World

PUM and Rijk Zwaan Committed to Transitioning International Food Chains


Volunteer organisation PUM Netherlands senior experts and vegetable breeding company Rijk Zwaan are cooperating to support agricultural small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries and emerging markets. PUM’s 1600 expert volunteers work together with entrepreneurs in 42 different sectors and 34 countries worldwide.

Rijk Zwaan and PUM have a common goal: to create sustainably produced food with a higher nutritional value in an international context. Connections between Dutch companies and companies in developing countries are important because these can lead to the necessary improvements in the entire food chain within a short period of time.

Transforming international food systems

On September 23, 2021, the need for global transformation of international food systems is discussed at the United Nations Food Systems Summit. Andy Wehkamp, Director of PUM: “The successful collaboration between PUM and Rijk Zwaan shows how a profit and non-profit organisation can reinforce each other. The practical knowledge of our PUM experts complements the knowledge and expertise of Rijk Zwaan. This allows us to jointly achieve much more impact in the countries where we work together.”

Training Indonesian farmers

A striking example is the collaboration between Rijk Zwaan and the Indonesian farmers’ cooperative Al Ittifaq. The project started with an advisory assignment by a PUM expert volunteer who, in addition to his voluntary work, is Category Manager at Albert Heijn, part of food retail group Ahold Delhaize. He made the connection between Rijk Zwaan and Al Ittifaq to enable the cooperative to grow vegetables of better quality and quantity.

Marco van Leeuwen, Director of Rijk Zwaan: “Rijk Zwaan supported to find the best vegetable varieties and provided training to grow high-quality vegetables under local conditions. As a result, the Al Ittifaq cooperative now supplies more food with a higher and consistent quality – which is also grown sustainably – to Indonesia’s largest supermarket chain. The Bank of Indonesia and the Indonesian government are now involved in expanding this project. This is a case study we are proud of, and we are looking forward to shaping our partnership with PUM in the future.”