Province of Limburg commits to LOF program

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6 November 2019

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Agrarians can earn more if local social parties purchase food, thinks deputy Hubert Mackus. The LOF program offers opportunities. The province of Limburg is a co-financier and wants to get the flywheel going. We must have an eye for both small-scale and large-scale chains.

Just in these turbulent times, Mackus sees opportunities for the sector. Both through innovation and with new partnerships between farmers and social parties. A current example is the LOF program, for which the financing was completed this spring. Within this program dozens of farmers and market gardeners are directly linked to health care providers for the supply of vegetables, fruit, dairy or meat.

In four masterclasses in the field of health care, the LOF program will be launched in the autumn.

Why are you personally committed to the LOF program?

'The idea of shortening the chain and immediately making the link with healthcare appeals to me greatly. A better meal also makes people healthier. Within a joint program we can further build on chains around food and education or food and sport.'

What do you see as the role of the province, outside of a part of the funding?

'We can bring parties such as farmers, health care institutions and patients together and encourage the initiative. If it doesn't happen automatically, we can open a door somewhere. It's important that we soon have a few good examples of chains and that the market itself starts to take initiatives.'

What are your administrative ambitions in the field of food and health?

'Within the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo, business, science and education come together to develop innovations around healthy food, the future agriculture and bio-circular economy. North Limburg municipalities, together with the province, are committed to the 'Healthiest Region' and research is being conducted at Maastricht University. A better balance in our diet and sometimes even individual adjustments to the diet lead to better health and reduce the need for care.'

What can farmers and gardeners do with this knowledge?

'For example, as a tomato grower, in addition to focusing on quality, shelf life and price, you can also start growing on ingredients that promote a healthy life.'

Can entrepreneurs apply to the province for money?'

'A new initiative must add something to what already exists and cannot be taken up independently by the market. At the same time I'm always open to a good idea.'

Why don't new chains in the field of agriculture and health care spring up spontaneously?'

'I think the main issue here is the question: How do you go about it? That is why parties do not seek each other out independently. In addition, not all agricultural entrepreneurs realize that by forming a chain in many cases you can also earn more. You also need logistics parties to organize things. We are happy to lend a hand in these kinds of processes, because getting healthy and affordable food closer to home is a win-win, of course.'

Do you see opportunities in the Limburg agrofood?

'I think there is also room for large chains, for example in cooperation with a supermarket chain. Farmers and horticulturalists can then supply high-quality food, with good taste and quality, for a longer period and at a fixed price. With its manufacturing industry, strong agro sector and logistics, our province has all the ingredients. In addition, agriculture and horticulture are facing a transition in which issues such as environment, climate, ecosystem, nitrogen and economic development also play a role. As an agricultural sector we are already top in the world, but to remain top, farmers and horticulturalists will have to become more sustainable and take account of their environment.'

When do you think the LOF program was successful?

'If a number of new chains are formed, whereby the care sector, but also other social parties, obtain better products. And if farmers get a demonstrably better margin. If this works, it will be copied automatically, I'm not worried about that.'

Photo: Twan Wiermans

Thinking along

More information

To keep up to date with all the developments around LOF, join the Kiempunt group LOF.

More information about the master class program can be found on the Diverzio website. There are still spots available for participation. You can register here.

More information about the boot camp program can be found on the website of NEVI. There are still spots available for participation. You can register here.

Do you want to exchange knowledge and contacts around the theme Short Chains? Then join the Short Chains group.

Source: Michiel Elands in New Harvest