The opportunities for horticulture in the Gulf region are extensive. The demand for self-sufficiency and the production of healthy, fresh food has been high on the agendas of various Gulf countries for years. Well before the current Covid19 crisis, the target countries started to develop national strategies to stimulate selfproduction, as the countries were almost 80% dependent on imported food, but there is also enormous waste. The current Covid19 crisis has only made this need more urgent, mainly due to logistical constraints. Not only does the region requires a more sustainable food chain, it is also an important logistics hub for China, India and the African continent.
The needs for self-sufficiency and local conditions (including for doing business) differ strongly between the countries in the Gulf. There are, for example, climate difference and different (geo)political and economic challenges. But there are also corresponding challenges, such as climate, sustainability and ultimately the same desire to become more locally self-sufficient. Producing safe, hygienic and sustainable food is (technically) possible in the Gulf region in greenhouses or indoors. Depending on the business model, location and/or investor, the right techniques will be chosen.
The extreme climates in the target countries require innovation and sustainability aimed at the production of high-quality fruit and vegetables, especially when the desire is for year-round production and there is an awareness of regional vulnerabilities associated with, for example, water scarcity.
Doing business in the region requires a collective approach to better respond to local needs and issues and to position (glass) horticulture Netherlands more effectively in the Gulf. As of January 2021, DGD has started a PIB together with RVO. PIB stands for Partners for International Business and is a program that allows Dutch companies to realise their international ambitions in a public-private partnership. The demand for-and consumption of-fresh food, due to increasing population growth, tourism and improved health care will continue to grow. High-quality technology, to handle the volume, is therefore essential. By offering a total solution, in terms of horticultural technology, management (guidance) and knowledge transfer, we believe we can help countries in the Gulf region become more self-sufficient. As the Netherlands, we want to provide a solution for the local food production system. We will specifically focus on covered crops and crops with high added value, such as tomato, sweet bell pepper, cucumber and eggplant.