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DSM CEO Feike Sijbesma Visits WFP Projects in Ethiopia

Feike Sijbesma  

Ethiopia is a country where mankind most likely originated and might even be home to the Ark of the Covenant. However, when I travelled through the country recently with WFP, it looked as if time had stood still.

Ethiopia is one of the least developed countries on earth, where food security is a massive problem and many are heavily reliant on food assistance. Almost 80% of all 80 million Ethiopians are small farmers, who are very often living in small huts without electricity and water.

Yet Ethiopia, from a development perspective, is also an interesting place, where a number of innovative strategies are being implemented and setting Ethiopia on a path towards food security. 

One such project was an inspiring school feeding programme run by WFP. Kids walk long distances each day, sometimes for over an hour, to attend school. Parents are motivated to send their children to school knowing they will receive at least one nutritious meal there. This means that these children are not working in the fields but instead getting an education. 

In an economy dependent on agriculture, projects that focus on the transfer of knowledge, know-how and skills are making a real difference. Learning new farming and food production skills, being taught soil conservation tactics or encouraging the creation of home gardening businesses are contributing to long-term self-reliance. 

One such example is a Food For Work scheme called MERET being put into practice with support of WFP. Farmers receive food if they develop their land as recommended by the Government’s agricultural specialists. Where only a few years ago there lay dusty, degraded land, I saw lush green pastures with grazing cattle and fields with reams of neatly planted crops. Speaking to community members, it was clear that this was a community effort and one in which everyone takes great pride.  

My trip once again convinced me that the private sector has a vast wealth of knowledge and expertise that can be of great help. Our company, Royal DSM, is doing just that by providing our nutrition know-how, patents and expertise to WFP and we are not alone, nor should we be. Businesses need to assume their responsibility by identifying ways in which their expertise can be put to best use to help create brighter futures for the world’s hungry. It is clear that if we pull the skills and resources of the public and private sectors, scientists, NGOs and local communities and work together we can help solve the problem of hunger.  

I was inspired by my trip to Ethiopia and I’m convinced more than ever that the World Food Programme is making an incredible long-term impact. This is why DSM wanted to be part of WFP’s matching gift campaign, for which DSM will donate one dollar for every dollar raised. The money will go to WFP’s school meal projects in the country. If we come together to each do our part, we can make a major difference for young schoolchildren in Ethiopia and beyond. We can provide the nutritious food they need to develop their country – something their parents weren’t able to do.

Help make a difference - donate to WFP today.



Feike Sijbesma


Partner of WFP