Onion exporter: ‘send surplus to alleviate hunger in East Africa’

Rather than destroy a Dutch onion surplus of 85 million to 100 million kilos this year, it should be sent to East Africa to alleviate hunger, Chayenne Wiskerke of family-owned Wiskerke, the world’s largest onion exporter, says in Wednesday’s Financieele Dagblad.

‘There are 20 million people starving in East Africa. And here we are sitting with a huge mountain of a basic food. I find it shocking.’ she said.

In the past few weeks, Wiskerke (27) has written to Dutch embassies in several African countries as well as to the World Trade Organisation and the World Food Program suggesting the idea.

But she does not believe her plan will be put into action due to regulations (many African countries now impose a 100% import duty) or evasive replies.

Wiskerke stressed that her company would not profit from the deal. ‘We only want to prevent so much good food from being destroyed while there are millions of starving people,’ she said.

The Netherlands is the world’s 12th largest onion producer and a major portion is exported. But the export market collapsed in mid-February when Russia cut off all imports of EU agricultural products resulting in the huge surplus.