Dutch greenhouse builders and installers are increasingly doing good business abroad, realising some 70 per cent of their turnover outside of the Netherlands. Scientists at Wageningen UR provide them with support in the form of knowledge and expertise. “This increases the chances of the supply industry succeeding on the international market,” says Sjaak Bakker, business unit manager at Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture.
“Growers and investors from abroad often contact us or Dutch greenhouse builders and installers,” Bakker explains. “In the past few years various high-quality horticultural projects were realised in locations worldwide, including Malaysia and Turkey. In these projects the supply industry and Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture worked together through practical and scientific contributions.”
Wageningen UR serves as a specialist in the field of custom greenhouses in international greenhouse projects. Bakker: “We developed the concept of the ‘adaptive greenhouse’, whereby on-site climatologic conditions, soil conditions and socio-economic factors are taken into account in the design of a new greenhouse. After all, a greenhouse developed for Dutch conditions cannot simply be copied to Mexico, Turkey or China.”
As a knowledge partner Wageningen UR provides input for the design and setup of the greenhouse. “Based on this contribution, a tunnel greenhouse that is more common in the region may be realised instead of a ‘Dutch’ glass greenhouse,” Bakker continues. Regardless of the type, the processes in these greenhouses can often be managed by Dutch technology.”
International network in horticulture
For Wageningen UR, the cooperation with the Dutch supply sector goes beyond supporting the design and realisation of greenhouses. In many new horticultural projects, the knowledge institute plays a major role as early as the start-up phase.
“We have a large international network and good access to embassies around the world,” adds Bakker. “This allows us to help the supply industry whenever they are considering (further) internationalisation. It also regularly occurs that foreign investors with horticultural plans initially contact Wageningen UR. We can then link the suppliers to the investors. A recent example resulted in a call to tender for the construction of a research centre in Abu Dhabi in which various Dutch suppliers participated.”
Upcoming countries often lack sufficient horticultural knowledge. In these cases Wageningen UR and other parties support ‘capacity building’, which also relies heavily on collaboration with the supply sector and educational institutes.
Bakker: “Over recent years Dutch horticultural research and greenhouse builders have achieved a strong global position as a knowledge partner. Internationally there are many great opportunities, and ‘the Netherlands’ is increasingly employed as the expert in the field of professional horticulture. Together with the Dutch industry we hope to further expand and strengthen this position.”