Dutch horticulture has been able to mature through cooperation, making the Netherlands the second largest exporter of agricultural products worldwide. But competition is lurking. Success hinges on a proper continuation of teamwork. NethWork, focusing on horticulture in Central America, is an example of how this works in practice.
The horticultural cluster NethWork now consists of 17 progressive organizations. Potential new members are screened for the cluster’s main focus: their complementary nature. This way, there are no competitors at the same table, business is done in an open way and new markets can more easily be explored.
Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama and Nicaragua receive serious attention, but central focus is evidently given to Guatemala, as the country offers the largest and most dynamic opportunities. This is confirmed by Robert Vergoossen, honorary consul in Guatemala and himself an entrepreneur with over 30 years’ experience. "Guatemala is a market for entrepreneurs who are in for the long haul," he says. "But if you persevere, there is little competition. The internal market is growing, but is still limited. Guatemala also offers excellent opportunities for production and export due to the excellent climate, available land and good quality labour."
A general feature of the horticultural sector in Central America is the lack of adequate knowledge, capital and technology. NethWork sees opportunities to make a difference with current providers by offering Dutch expertise and build a sustainable position. For example, by market research and trade missions, both in Central America and the Netherlands. During these activities, there is much attention to knowledge transfer and matchmaking.
NethWork representative Julio Cabrera works from Guatemala City to chart the local market, promote NethWork and the products and services of NethWork members in particular. Julio: "I expect a lot of the horticultural sector in Guatemala. Already I see strong progression, partly because of the growth of the domestic market. But export is a promising venue as well. NethWork comes at a perfect time, especially since our cluster works along three lines that reinforce each other: providing quality products and services, providing and organizing practical knowledge and organizing sector-wide promotion."
Who are NethWork?
NethWork (www.nethwork.info) consists of Aweta, Best Fresh Group, Celtic, Formflex Metazet, GreenQ, Ideavelop, Javo, JConnecta, HAS Hogeschool, Koppert Biological Systems, Luiten, Lutgo Global, Modiform, Priva, Van Dongen & Heerschap, Van der Heide Foliekassen and Van der Knaap Groep.
Source: Berichten Buitenland