There’s a Dutch song that starts with those words. When I’m at home in South Africa I see the sun literally rising over the sea almost every morning. But last year I shared some moments with you when I saw the sun rising figuratively over Africa as well.

Such as the fact that the food horticulture sector is progressing in leaps and bounds – something that can not only be measured in terms of food safety but in product quality as well. More and more investors are seeing opportunities to set up a horticultural business here. Existing growers aren’t happy to expand at the moment, as fears of imminent land expropriation without compensation abound in South Africa at the moment. So growers don’t want to invest for the time being; they just want to wait and see. But investors see no reason to stop, so they want to build greenhouses.

And through the network of Dutch companies that have a presence in Africa, we can offer a nice package: a good greenhouse – with a plastic roof instead of glass, of course – but with equipment at a high Dutch level in terms of irrigation, substrates, screens and air humidification. And not forgetting good support for the growers in all aspects through my work for Delphy. I have been living in South Africa for almost four years now and it is good to see how many horticultural businesses are progressing well as a result of this cooperation. “Together you’re strong” may be typically Dutch, but as we can see, it also works here.

I also like to keep an eye on environmental aspects in this beautiful country. Plastic recycling is still a private initiative as yet, but one that is growing rapidly. Public opinion is key in this respect. More and more local residents are getting involved in the clean-up actions on the beaches, which have been going on for years, to try to stop the plastic soup in the oceans expanding. Nationwide advertisements call on people to separate glass, paper and plastic. This saves raw materials, but also energy. Electricity is expensive here and is switched off regularly because there is simply not enough to go round.

Recently I read a full-page explanation in a magazine about how electricity from wind, water and the sun can easily be used to produce hydrogen via electrolysis. The article reported on an initiative in South Africa in which this is already happening, with the potential to export it to Japan as vehicle fuel. In Europe, cars are already powered with hydrogen, and it’s good to see that things are starting to happen in this area here too. A sign that the sun continues to rise over Africa: the final conclusion for my last column for In Greenhouses.

Herbert Stolker.
Senior Consultant Africa.