EWS-KT Knowledge Transfer Managers Meet in Amsterdam
By Elijah Mwashayenyi, Head of East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer in Africa
The EWS-KT Managers Meeting is an annual event that has seen transformation in the past few years. Initially designed as an opportunity for Knowledge Transfer Managers to physically meet and exchange ideas and strategies, it has been a forum that epitomises the KT spirit of oneness and especially of putting heads together for the common good.
As we all know, out of the blue, a previously unknown virus, COVID-19, came into the picture in 2020, changing our lives forever. The KT Managers Meeting was not spared. Gone were the days of meeting in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or anywhere else … physically, I mean.
Everything became virtual, including the KT Managers Meeting. Of course this development challenged our intellect, to such an extent that we discovered new ways of doing things that we never thought possible. The virtual dimension that EWS-KT had always utilised reached the stratosphere.
That said, it was never the same as meeting a colleague face to face—without face masks—to discuss the KT agenda. So it was with a sense of nostalgia that we reminisced about the pre-COVID years … until July 2022, when, with a touch of logistics magic from EWS-KT Knowledge Manager Sylvie Desilles and the team, we met once again in person, this time in Amsterdam.
For all intents and purposes, it had to be Amsterdam. With EWS-KT Director Stuart Morris now based in the Netherlands, an opportunity on the table to meet World Food Prize winner and East-West Seed founder Simon N. Groot, and a chance to strengthen our partnership with longtime friend Wageningen University and Plant Research (WUR) and to cultivate other existing and potential partnerships, it definitely had to be Amsterdam.
No prizes for guessing that Amsterdam is a stark contrast to our usual smallholder farming environments and even our tropical cities, but there is something about this city that tickles the mind and brings new hope for the future. It is a melting pot of different characters and cultures, from our own organisation right up to our partners. Generally fine summer weather added icing to the cake.
Besides discussing our own strategies, we had good discussions with our partners and potential partners. This short article cannot be exhaustive in covering the events of the week. Suffice to say that WUR showed us what the future of farming should look like and sustainable agriculture company Koppert stimulated our minds with biological management of pests and diseases.
This Amsterdam story cannot be complete without mentioning Simon Groot. At 85, the man has still got it—the shrewdness, the figures in his head, the vision, and his sheer passion for knowledge transfer are there for everyone to see.
The book Simon showed us about the first 20 years of East-West Seed, Vegetable Breeding for Market Development, is really worth reading. The new version is being written in our actions and in our hearts. As I suggested to Simon during our meeting at WUR, that new version surely deserves the following title: “Knowledge Transfer for Market Development.”
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