Dutch horticulture can play an important role in the development of a highly productive and sustainable horticulture in India. This became evident during a recent trade mission of the PIB consortium NLHortiRoad2India to India. Agreements have been concluded with gardeners, investors and retail companies for further cooperation. This should result in concrete collaborative projects in the coming years.
The NLHortiRoad2India consortium wants to position the Dutch horticulture sector as a partner for India to meet the rapidly increasing demand of the Indian population for fresh, safe and sustainably produced fruits and vegetables. The delegation visited the states of Karnataka and Maharashtra in November and participated in the Bangalore Tech Summit, Asia’s largest technology event.
The trade mission was initiated and organized by Dutch Greenhouse Delta (DGD), InnovationQuarter, Rotterdam Partners and the Dutch Embassy in New Delhi.
Visit to Agro Tie, a test center for growing crops in a controlled environment.
Effective utilization of input
Currently, Indian horticulture cannot meet the demand for locally produced food. The companies associated with PIB (Partners in Business) believe that public/private partnerships between the parties involved in India and the Netherlands can boost the horticulture sector. Support from the Dutch horticulture chain can lead to increased production and more efficient use of inputs such as water and plant protection agents.
Indian horticulture at a turning point
One of the participants in the mission is Peter-Jan Snellink, Sales Manager Asia at Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects. This company provides turkey horticulture projects worldwide but has hardly been active in India so far. After his return, he concludes, “Indian horticulture is at a turning point. The population is growing rapidly and hence the demand for food is increasing, especially from the middle class. This growing demand cannot be met with the traditional cultivation of horticulture products in the open land and under plastic.” In addition, India is also becoming aware of the need to reduce the use of water, chemicals and fertilizers.”
Horticulture company in Pune, where production is done with Dutch technology. This company wants to expand by 40 hectares.
More productive and sustainable
According to Snellink, there is a need for a transition to a cultivation that is more productive and more sustainable. This can be achieved with the construction of mid-tech and high-tech greenhouses. “The entire Dutch horticulture chain is represented in the PIB cluster. It is precisely this collaboration that provides added value to potential partners in India. This became evident during our visit. We now have a better picture of horticulture and bottlenecks in the chain. I am convinced that with Dutch technology, adapted to local conditions, horticulture in India can take a big leap forward.”
During the mission, specific agreements were made with a horticultural company in the province of Maharashtra. This company wants to expand with 40 hectares of greenhouse horticulture. The consortium prepares a business plan for this entrepreneur. For horticulture areas near Bangalore and Mumbai, the PIB cluster will calculate a business case for a possible horticulture project. Snellink: “We are able to supply the technology that suits the hot and humid climate in these regions. We then need to demonstrate that such an Indian investment is profitable, given the local market. In April 2023 we will go to India again. Then we will present our business case. I hope that we can then make further events.”
Dutch delegation visits a Spar supermarket in Bangalore and examines the fresh segment.
Alex van der Meulen of Meteor Systems also went to India. This company produces cultivation systems for horticulture worldwide. “We participate in the PIB consortium because we believe in a chain-wide strategy from the Netherlands when we enter new markets, in this case India. Together we can develop complete projects. That story has come out to the parties we spoke to during our visit.”
According to Van der Meulen, Indian horticulture has great potential. “The population is increasing and prosperity is increasing. And so the demand for fruit and vegetables is growing. Like China, for example, India wants to develop its own food system. In that case, investments must be made in technology to increase production and at the same time make it more sustainable. The mission made it clear that chain parties in India are prepared to do so and also see perspectives in cooperation with Dutch horticulture.”
According to Van der Meulen, contacts have been made that offer the prospect of further cooperation. “We will now work on that. The PIB consortium has sufficient internal knowledge and experience to advise potential investors on the development of profitable horticulture projects.”
The delegation at the Dutch stand during the Bengaluru Tech Summit.
Market demand central
Desh Ramnath of Dutch Greenhouse Delta, co-organizer of the trade mission, says the visit was mainly focused on market research. “Market demand was central. Where is the demand for purchasing power and what products are needed? To get an idea of this, we spoke to retailers, catering entrepreneurs and food distributors. And we visited supermarkets to get an idea of the range of vegetables and the prices. That knowledge is very important to be able to come up with proposals from the PIB cluster for a production that matches market demand.”
Ramnath is positive about the results of the mission. “One horticultural company has asked for an offer for a major expansion with Dutch technology. Perhaps more importantly, we have reached an agreement with retailers, gardeners and investors to carry out a feasibility study for three locations in the construction of a greenhouse using Dutch technology.”
He hopes that the collaboration between the Dutch consortium and partners in India will soon lead to the construction of several greenhouses with a size of two or three hectares. “These are exemplary companies with which we can demonstrate that Dutch technology actually leads to higher and more sustainable production, which is also profitable in the Indian market. Hopefully it will have a snowball effect.”
Agriculture Attaché Rick Nobel, co-organizer of the trade mission, says he can look back on a successful first mission. “This multi-year process is off to a good start. The PIB was signed in October and this mission already took place in November. The companies could tell their story well and there was concrete interest from Indian companies. Participation in the Bengaluru Tech Summit was good for visibility of Dutch horticulture. Now it is important to maintain this momentum and further develop identified business cases. The mission showed that there is a great need for Dutch solutions for Indian horticulture.”
The PIB education has a duration of three years. The program includes nine missions to India and three visits from India to the Netherlands.
Participants PIB consortium
The following companies from the PIB consortium NLHortiRoad2India participated in the trade mission: Bayer, De Ruiter Seeds, Hoogendoorn Growth Management, Horti XS, Lumiforte, Koppert, Meteor Systems, Priva, Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects and Viscon.
source: Agrimessages Abroad