I was in a plane when Prem called confirming that the second phase of the COMPRO project (‘Institutionalization of quality assurance mechanism and dissemination of top quality commercial products to increase crop yields and improve food security of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa – COMPRO-II’) had been approved. I was again in a plane when Prem called to inform that he was leaving the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Excellent and depressing news and all that before the respective flights took off!
Photo: Prem Warrior during the opening ceremony of the greenhouse at Moi University (Eldoret, Kenya) under COMPRO-I
2013, january 15th
Prem was right to put his heart and soul behind the main goals of the COMPRO project i.e. ensuring commercial fertilizers are safe to human, animal, plants and the environment, efficacious for the intended purpose, properly labeled to protect end-users against fraud and product misrepresentation, and consequently create a leveled playing field for the industry. His main vision for the COMPRO project, as emphasized during the steering advisory committee (SAC) meeting in January 2013 (see photograph), was to put in place proper tools and capacity for adequate marketplace surveillance to prevent companies making profit on the back of resource-poor farmers by marketing inefficacious and non-profitable bio-fertilizers and related commercial products. Prem took us on a path to transform the first phase of the project from a research-driven initiative to an initiative that will have a lasting legacy. Prem’s relationship with the COMPRO team was based on friendship and trust, but with the necessary ‘hard talk’ to ensure that the project work streams stay on track.
We sincerely hope to be able to continue relying on Prem’s vast experience with bio-fertilizer production and quality control to the benefit of many small-holder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and wish him success with all his future endeavours.
Bernard Vanlauwe on behalf of the COMPRO team