The Dutch horticultural consortium is convinced that collaboration is the key to feeding the ever-expanding cities. The Dutch horticulture industry built a unique ecosystem, working in partnership with the Dutch government across commercial companies and public sector institutions to bring food security to a country that endured starvation in the mid 20th century, and from that to lead and to share horticultural innovation and best practice with the world. Holistic solutions and knowledge from the Netherlands for producing food locally in a region with unfavorable climate conditions, involving water-energy-food simultaneously, can be of great use for further ensuring food security in countries worldwide. This was the main message during the Horticultural Days, an event organized at the Netherlands Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020 this week.
The program consisted of a succession of interesting speakers, panels, and workshops. Meiny Prins, EXPO Ambassador, and CEO of Priva urges that the UAE could set the standard for food production in a harsh climate, with economically feasible solutions that are driven by renewable energy and reusable wastewater, creating new ecosystems around the many ways of producing and processing food. For this, a food strategy aimed at creating local food systems in a sustainable and integrated way is needed. We need to create an opportunity to make food production attractive again for the next generation. Young professionals that choose to live close to, or in, urban areas. Where they can develop a new economy around food production in which circularity and new technology will play a big role.
Several entrepreneurs from the Middle East were part of the program. They provided the evidence or the collaboration proposed by the Dutch consortium. Mr. Sky Kurtz is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pure Harvest Smart Farms and is a pioneer in the Agritech sector. Pure Harvest currently supplies premium quality, sustainably-grown fresh fruits, and vegetables to key retailers and HORECA accounts across the UAE and is now expanding across the Gulf Region. “Our pilot in the desert showed very promising results — the potential for year-round local production at very high quality and at a very good cost structure,” says Kurtz. “Through our farming techniques and adopted Dutch technology, our tomatoes taste as if they were straight from the vine to your plate. Kurtz at the panel discussion: “The Dutch ecosystem you created is quite remarkable. The government, the companies, supermarkets, etc, all speak the same language and show an incredible level of automation.’’
It’s no secret that rising populations across the globe are putting a strain on humanity’s essential resources, not least the supply of freshwater. “Around 70% to 80% of the world’s freshwater is used for agriculture, and every aquifer we use for this purpose is being depleted,” explains Mark Tester, who along with Ryan Lefers co-founded Red Sea Farms, one of Saudi Arabia’s brightest startups. “The situation is unsustainable, which means we have to change.” Red Sea Farms aims to use just 10% freshwater in its greenhouses, with the other 90% made up of saltwater. That makes agricultural systems using Red Sea Farms technology cheaper to run and far more sustainable than traditional, freshwater-based systems. It’s a winning combination, and their results have been profound. There’s also an added side benefit neither of the founders expected when they developed their approach – their crops taste better, too. Tester claimed: ‘’Sustainable food security is key. “We need to invest together, in a joined back office in the region so that maintenance is nearby.” Let’s build that industry together.’’
Dutch horticulture has the knowledge, expertise, and technology to support countries and cities around the world to become more self-reliant in food production. Our innovative technology enables us to produce food efficiently and all year round. Even in the harshest climate conditions. “We strive to create holistic solutions covering water, energy, and food – that can improve food production in regions with unfavorable climate conditions. This will help us to further ensure food security around the world.” – Eric Egberts, CEO Dutch Greenhouse Delta
In the afternoon a diverse group of state-of-the-art Dutch companies organizes interactive workshops about Innovation, Vertical Farming, Responsible Production, Climate Action, and Life on Land.
The audience consisted of an energetic crowd made up of entrepreneurs, growers, retailers, and government officials from the UAE region. A part of them was physically present, a much larger part of the international audience followed the event online via live stream.