Last January Wageningen University & Research, Business Unit Greenhouse Horticulture and a selected group of Dutch companies from the Club of 100 visited Cuba and Guatemala with the intention of exploring possible business and scientific cooperation opportunities in the horticulture sector.
The collapse of the socialist block caused a devastating impact on Cuban agriculture due to fuel, fertilizer and pesticide shortages. Innovative solutions had to be found, turning the vast majority of Cuban agriculture to organic production, pioneering the use of biocontrol and biostimulants on a very large scale. The involvement of national research institutions and the creation of biological product plants has been an important part of the success.
Guatemala is a promising emerging greenhouse horticulture country in Latin America. Vegetable production is traditionally strong but floriculture sector is also booming as shown by the recent installation of two major Dutch phalaenopsis growers in the country. The implementation of environmental friendly crop protection is however urgently needed.
The group program was intense. Organoponic production systems, organic farms, cooperatives and companies dedicated to the production of entomopathogenic microorganisms and biostimulants were visited, alongside several national agriculture research institutes. Discussions with institutions facilitating cooperation and investments have also been part of the trip.
The visit has been fruitful. The group is now busy formalizing and shaping these opportunities into actual projects.