I am convinced that after all the developments that have taken place from soil to substrate; volume-orientated to customer orientated; from unlit to artificial lighting; from small to large scale; and from large scale to professionalism, the time has now come for internationalisation of the Dutch greenhouse horticulture. That goes for cultivation, trade and suppliers but then in a different way to how it is done now.

We as the Dutch greenhouse sector can no longer continue to simply place greenhouses elsewhere the world and then say: ‘Here is your turn-key project, good luck.’ The Dutch horticultural sector has a mega chance to extend our position in the world, providing we are prepared to work together and together work with (potential) investors, governments and growers abroad to help them make the right decisions. And when those choices are made, we need to help with the transfer of knowledge needed to make these projects profitable. We also need to help over the long term with their further development.

We have already done this at two places. In both cases we have a stake in the companies in exchange for our knowledge input over the long term. The benefit to our partners is that they are assured of our knowledge input and continuity. Our benefit is that we can further develop in other markets much faster, enabling us to become a stronger and better partner for our customers. We also remain an attractive employer for upcoming talent and it makes our business even more enjoyable.

There should be an advantage to the sector if we as Dutch companies are part of what is happening worldwide. By only providing knowledge we increasingly sideline ourselves. It simply doesn’t work well enough at the moment because, to be sure here and there steps are being made, we still don’t get across the complete story well enough. It’s not without reason that I spend a lot of time motivating companies in all areas of the horticultural sector in order to make a strong chain from a large number of loose links. It’s only then that people with large horticultural problems abroad, similar to those with water management issues, will shout ‘ Bring in the Dutch’.

Frank van Kleef
Tomato grower and member of Harvest House