The future of horticulture
With dealers, greenhouse builders, installers and growers in attendance, the future of French horticulture was discussed during an informative and festive gathering in Nantes on Friday, February 2. The French trend watcher and visionary Nils Aziosmanoff was invited for the occasion. He spoke about the major lifestyle trends and technological developments that humanity will be faced with in the next 25 years. As well as this he discussed the challenges we will face in the area of food supply. And even more importantly, how we can take on these challenges with technological innovation.
Besides keynote speaker Nils Aziosmanoff, the seminar was attended by a number of special guests such as Jacques Rouchaussé, president of Légumes de France, Dirk-Jan Niewenhuis, deputy ambassador of the Dutch embassy in Paris and Laurent Bergé, president of producer organization l'AOP Tomates de France. In addition, various directors and colleagues from the Ridder Group were present to express their appreciation to the colleagues from Ridder-HortiMaX France.
It has already been 25 years since Ridder-HortiMaX, in the form of Van Vliet as it was called then, made initial contact with the French dealer and installer Prémel-Cabic in Brittany. They were already looking to the future then: they foresaw good opportunities for Dutch horticulture automation technologies that could help the French horticulture sector to develop and make the necessary steps to improve efficiency. This prediction was borne out: today, France has a vital, innovative horticulture sector with strong demand for the high-tech horticulture systems from Ridder-HortiMaX.
Ridder-HortiMaX is now well-represented in France with its own office and ten dealers in the four key regions for French horticulture. Together with local partners such as Prémel-Cabic, Richel Equipment, Lycotec, Divatec, 2A Auto, 3CTEC, MAH, Aquaterris, Gilloots and CMF, Ridder-HortiMaX has, in 25 years, succeeded in positioning itself as one of the leading technology suppliers in French horticulture.
Vincent Aubret, General Manager of Ridder-HortiMaX France, looks back with great pride at having gained this position: “Together with the knowledge and expertise of our local partners, we responded pragmatically to local trends and developments. Without the effort, knowledge and feedback of our dealers and installers, we would never have become a market leader as we are today. But it’s important not to rest on your laurels too much. We still need to keep looking toward the future to make our technology stand up to what is to come.”
Looking at some future developments, Vincent Aubret brought up challenges in the area of big data, artificial intelligence, labour, sustainability, plant monitoring and food security. Today, these concepts increasingly run in parallel with the technical developments in global agriculture and horticulture. “These concepts are increasingly the subject of discussion with our customers. For instance, there is growing demand for data and artificial intelligence. For example, consider data-driven computer models that can make harvest estimates without human input. On the other hand, there is also increasing demand in France for systems that can make agriculture and horticulture more sustainable. For example, there is more and more space for environmentally friendly water-saving technologies to reduce the ecological footprint of our sector. There is also demand for innovative energy-saving systems that make food production less dependent on fossil fuels and resources.”
Vincent Aubret explains that Ridder-HortiMaX will continue to work pragmatically to take on these types of challenges. “On the one hand, we need to have more discussions with the market at the local level to develop solutions that fully connect to the local demands and possibilities. On the other hand, we are also aware that we can’t do it with innovative technology alone. Knowledge sharing through local partners and strategic cooperation is vitally important. The development that French horticulture has undergone in the past five years is a prime example of this: the close cooperation with local dealers, installers and partners, has raised the knowledge level of the French horticulture sector to a higher level.”
Strategic cooperation with dedicated supply chain partners
Looking to the future, Ridder-HortiMaX will make the strategic partnerships even more concrete. “As a group, we will need to invest more in sharing knowledge and support, both toward our dealers and toward our end users. We no longer see ourselves as a supplier of products, but as an experienced and dedicated partner that is involved in the whole supply chain. This presents a vast array of opportunities and possibilities. We are very much looking forward to fulfilling our role over the next 25 years with this new vision.”
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