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Henk Boekestijn paid a visit:

"Jordan growers can grow anything they want"

"The season is almost at an end there, but everything still looked good," says Henk Boekestijn of Westland Peppers. Last week, the pepper grower visited Jordan to explore the market and the possibilities for vegetable cultivation.

When it’s winter in the Netherlands, it is difficult to grow certain types of bell peppers. For this reason, Westland Peppers is looking for options in warmer climates. Bell peppers can come from Spain, Morocco, Israel and maybe even Jordan in the future. Henk: "But before that happens, I first want to take a look myself." During his two-day stay, he visited several growers, breeding stations and export companies. Henk: "I traveled all day, shaking hands and asking questions. I barely needed my interpreter, many people speak English."

Compared to Spain, Jordan is still a developing country in terms of its horticultural sector, but it is growing fast. Vegetables are grown in tunnels that offer a lot of flexibility. In the winter, these tunnels are disassembled and transported to the mountains, where they are put back together.

Henk is very enthusiastic about the climate in Jordan. In Israel it can be too hot in March already, but the climate in the Jordan Valley is very favorable for a very diverse vegetable cultivation. The Jordan Valley is 200 meters below sea level, and growers use river water which is made suitable for vegetable cultivation through modern osmosis filter systems. Henk: "They are able to grow anything they want, they are even doing strawberries and mangoes now."

The Dutch government is sponsoring a greenhouse in Jordan where different trials are being carried out with vegetable cultivation. Henk: "The greenhouse is full of Dutch computers, and tests are being done with hydroponics as well." Henk said he would like to see some of the specialty varieties of Westland Peppers participate in the trials.

Whether or not Westland Peppers does business in Jordan will not be decided by the favorable climate or working conditions. That's because the situation in neighboring Syria causes a lot of problems for Jordan as well. Henk: "The borders are closed to a large extent and the trade is hit hard by this. Many products are no longer allowed to leave the country, and only via Israel do Jordanian vegetables reach Eastern European countries and Russia."

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