‘Towards a global network of successful farmers’

Global Farmers unites farmers worldwide

Users are discovering Global Farmers – a rapidly growing worldwide agricultural network launched by Rabobank – as a valuable resource for exchanging knowledge, best practices and experiences.

If we are to maintain levels of food production in the future, we need to start thinking about solutions now. This was part of the idea behind the Global Farmers platform, a network of agricultural workers from all over the world which was founded in 2012 and has grown into an online community where farmers share knowledge and pool their expertise. Farmers can access the network to find information on topics such as business succession, global trade, increasing profitability, sustainability, innovation – and each other’s day-to-day operations.

Gosse Hofstra, Rabobank’s Food & Agri Manager: ‘We will gradually be adding more features to Global Farmers, working in conjunction with the platform’s users. Our goal is to become a global network of successful farmers.’

Common ground

Dairy farmer Kees Hemminga from the village of Terband in Friesland province visited New Zealand and Australia for a 10-day Global Farmers seminar in October 2016, during which he met around 40 farmers from all over the world. On his arrival home, he created a profile of his farm on www.globalfarmers.com, so he could remain in touch with – and share knowledge with – the other farmers online.

Hemminga looks back fondly on his “down under” experience: ‘It was great to have the opportunity to discuss the future of agriculture and global food production with other farmers from all over the world. What are some of the latest trends and developments, how will we adapt to these trends and how will they affect our farms, and what are Rabobank’s ideas?

I have found that farmers from South America, for example, are concerned with the same issues as we are. This includes business succession, increasing output, and improving the sustainability of that output. It’s nice to find common ground with others like that – we really were able to exchange our experiences.’

'South American farmers are concerned with the same issues as we are'

Added value

One of the topics discussed during the seminar was ‘challenges facing the agricultural sector’. Hemminga: ‘We are aware of certain trends in consumer behaviour. There’s one category of consumers, for example, that’s looking for high-quality products at reasonable prices, while there are also a growing number of people who are willing to pay more for products that provide a high-value experience – organic food would be one example. Dutch farmers are faced with the choice of either increasing output or focussing on the production of valued-added foods.’

Hemminga has been visiting the Global Farmers website regularly since returning from his trip to Australia and New Zealand, using it mostly as an information resource. ‘It’s a high-quality, well-designed platform where I can find information about agricultural trends that I wouldn’t be able to find so easily otherwise. I’ve also received some valuable answers to questions I have posted on the forum.’ Indeed, he believes there is great value in sharing knowhow and networks with farmers from all over the world. ‘The fact that people in the Netherlands are dependent on what happens in other parts of the world means it’s good to connect with others and be aware of the trends that affect your own operations,’ he says.

Kees van Merwe, an organic farmer based in Mozambique, is another avid user of the Global Farmers platform: ‘I firmly believe that organic farming is the future of agriculture. I use the platform to share my knowledge and have found that other farmers all over the world share my conviction.’

Banking for Food

Global Farmers is fully in keeping with the bank’s ‘Banking for Food’ strategy, the central focus of which is providing access to finance, knowledge and networks. The Global Farmers network enables farmers to exchange information, organise working visits, and contact experts from Rabobank’s specialised Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) department. In addition, the platform provides geological information to help farmers use their land more efficiently.

Global Farmers is currently only available to Rabobank members.