Diligently Pieter Wijnen told to an international audience about the Dutch horticulture in general and his own pepper nursery in particular. In order farmers in upcoming markets will not make the same mistakes. Like squandering their market power.
After a week of Dutch horticulture Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti from Rwanda was not really impressed anymore. Though more than 33 hectares of glass is not what he is used to in Rwanda.
All week long, he and eleven other journalists from around the world visited the Dutch horticulture sector.
The Dutch Enterprise Agency RVO organizes eighteen journalists’ mission to the Netherlands every year, Sabrina Waltmans explains. Those missions are normally related to one of the top sectors. Last week it was horticulture.
And so it happened that Peter Wijnen from Wijnen Square Crops gave a guided tour through his business to twelve visitors from all around the world. A few people from Belgium and Germany, but most from emerging countries in Africa and Asia. Africa was represented by five persons, from Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda.
Our country is struggling with subsistence farming
Jean from Rwanda has a nice story for The New Times, the leading English Daily in his country. He will write about the transition from traditional to modern agriculture. ‘Our country is struggling with subsistence farming,’ he says.
It is no progress to linger in that, he told. But switching all of a sudden into large-scale agriculture might be even worse. ‘In that case there will be nothing left for those small farmers.’
A change must go gradually, he thinks. Step by step. As they did in the Netherlands. Pieter Wijnen is the right man to talk to. He likes to tell how to take those steps. ‘So they do not make the same mistakes as we did’.
The Dutch agricultural and horticultural industry is completely dependent on the whims of the supermarket. ‘Farmers should cooperate and not squander their market power. Otherwise the supermarket tells you what to do.’
In emerging countries where those journalists come from, it is easier to make money with horticulture nowadays. The climate is excellent in many places, land and labour are cheap. And in the Netherlands, especially energy is very expensive. So expensive that Wijnen made losses the last couple of years.
For growers the cost price rises. Supermarkets have the market power and are not willing to raise the price. Wijnen had to explain to the critical press how it’s possible that he is not bankrupt yet. ‘I just lower my repayment to the bank.’
© Marc van der Sterren | Farming Africa