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Welcome interview to Rian Fokker

Rian Fokker was announced as the project lead for the SD=HS project as of 1st of November. Below is a short welcome interview to get to know her.

Welcome to the SD=HS team Rian!

Can you introduce who you are in a few words?

A few words would be: Agronomist background, I studied Tropical Agronomy in Wageningen and have always worked at the crossroads between agriculture, human rights and environment in different organizations, including Oxfam Novib. Another central word would be ‘smallholder farmer’. We have flock of 20 sheep, a large vegetable garden and an orchard with over 20 forgotten apple and pear varieties that we planted 5 years ago. So, I try to put my work into practice at home.

What made you decide to join the SD=HS program?

The SD=HS sits at the exact crossroads I mentioned, between agriculture, human rights, and climate. This position fitted with what I like and what I think is important to work on. One aspect I found very attractive is the strong local to global level.  I have been a lobbyist working on global trade policy, and I have worked in an organisation that was more field-oriented and worked directly with smallholder farmers. This project combines both: we are able to influence policies because we know what is happening in the field.

I also liked the SD=HS team, when I worked at Oxfam previously, I knew about SDHS and I loved how interdependent and complimentary the team is.

What does a just and sustainable food system look like to you?

For me, a just and sustainable food system should deliver sufficient and healthy food as a starting point. It is a system that takes care of and improves the land and biodiversity, water and the air. A sustainable food system simply does not negatively impact the environment. A just food system gives both farmers and consumers a voice and ensures fair returns. To reach this, it is important for this system to be as decentralized as possible, meaning it comprises of local solutions applied around the world.

What are three things you look forward to?

– I look forward to being in the field to meet and talk with farmers, learn from the people who do the work!
– I am excited to meet our partners across the eight countries and beyond
– I feel energized about thinking of the next phase of SD=HS, to innovate and work together with all our partners.

What else do you wish to share?

I want to share a message to the SD=HS community: You can be really proud of what you have achieved so far! And looking forward, I am keen to work on new opportunities, like the partnership with CIRAD and McKnight, to upscale and reinvented what we do and look for synergies in partnerships. Let us innovate and decentralize to move strengthen our network of partners.

Just before this newsletter, Rian announced that for personal reasons she will be leaving us in January. For all the reasons explained in this interview she deeply regrets leaving the project behind.

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