new cooperation begins in central America

Dutch horticulture group creates new opportunities

Dutch horticulture has grown through cooperation. Number one in the world, The Netherlands is the second largest exporter of agricultural products worldwide but competition is always lurking. Success in our horticultural sector abroad begins with good cooperation. NethWork, focusing on horticulture in central America is an example of how this can work in practice.

The horticultural network NethWork (Think Orange, Grow Green) consists of 17 progressive organisations. Potential new members are screened on the important entry points of the group. There are no competitors at the table, so business can be conducted in an open manner and new markets more easily found.

Targeting the horticultural markets of central America, NethWork has since 2013, with the support of the 2g@there-program worked on the development and implementation of sustainable projects in the floriculture and the three year program aims to steer the group towards the available market trade in Central America. Costa Rica, El Salvatore, Honduras, Panama and Nicaragua receive serious attention, but the core mission is clearly Guatemala which had the greatest diversity and the most opportunity. Robert Vergoossen, honorary consul in Guatemala, active for 30 years active as entrepreneur explains, “Guatemala is a market for entrepreneurs with time. If you persist there is little competition. The internal market is growing but is still limited. Guatemala offers excellent chances for production and export with an outstanding climate, available ground, good quality and cheap labour."

Business card
A general feature of the horticultural sector in central America is a lack in adequate knowledge, money and technology. NethWork sees the possibility to make a difference with the current providers on all these fronts and give a Dutch business card on which to build a sustainable position. For example with market permits and trade missions to both central America and The Netherlands. During these activities, a lot of attention is given to knowledge exchange and match making and where possible, cooperation with other players in the region, for example the CBI. Next to this a group member of HAS College is to pull on the so named K2Kknowledge program. Together with the partner university EARTH from Costa Rica and Rafel Landivar from Guatemala work is made on three fronts in order to improve the practical knowledge, management training and student exchange, and the learning program tailored to the learning program’s for horticulture.

NethWork representative Julio Cabrera is for the Group ‘the man on the spot’. He works from Guatemala City to put it on the map for the market. Julio, “I expect a lot in the future for the horticultural sector in Guatemala. Now I see strong growth. It has to do with the growth of the internal market and more requests for improved quality. I also see more for the future of export. The reputation of Guatemala as deliverer of high quality horticultural products is on the rise. In short, NethWork comes at the perfect moment, because our group works along three lines to reinforce each other: to present high quality products and services, providing an organisation with practical knowledge and sector-wide promotion."

Most sustainable pot plant nursery in the world
NethWork strives to improve sustainability in horticulture with the construction of the ‘most sustainable pot plant nursery in the world’ in Guatemala. This nursery will be equipped so that the social and environment technology used are compatible. The goal from the days of discussion is to bring (a measurability of) sustainability to horticulture. NethWork plans to set the bar as high as possible: Think Orange, Grow Green! The realisation of this project will take place in the Spring of 2013, and the following year 2014, with the official opening to take place at the end of April 2014.

Construction will take place at the Palki company, who have delivered green plants to the European market for years and work together with Dutch partners. Palki’s project and development manager, Rodrigo Luna, is one of the selected managers who in the Spring will go to The Netherlands. Rodrigo: "The project ‘Palki Sostenible’ looks perhaps like what other companies have done, but there is quite a bit more behind it. We are going further in the introduction of solar power, water recycling and reduction of waste. We are the community and partners in the chain and want to show how it is possible to plant in a sustainable manner and earn money without the conditions and without putting future generations in danger.”

Management training
NethWork has selected ten leading horticultural managers from Central America who from 20 October to 8 November will receive intensive training and will introduce them to the ‘Dutch Horticultural Land’ and additionally develop their own business case further. The purpose of the training is to solve practical business problems through contact with Dutch (NethWork) companies providing knowledge and technology. Also in the Spring of 2014 NethWork will organise more training in The Netherlands. In the meantime there will be a Central America follow-up event organised where nominated managers will meet with fellow colleges to share their knowledge. As a spin-off from this program NethWork will take the initiative to set up local study clubs to exchange and promote the knowledge further.

Who are NethWork?
NethWork ( consists of Aweta, Best Fresh Group, Celtic, Formflex Metazet, GreenQ, Ideavelop, Javo, JConnecta, HAS College, Koppert Biological Systems, Luiten, Lutgo Global, Modiform, Priva, Van Dongen & Heerschap, Van der Heide Foliekassen and the Van der Knaap Groep. Ideavelop is the next member of NethWork and also the coördinator of the Group. Ideavelop has their HQ in Costa Rica (in de person of Edwin Smit and Renée Snijders) and in Netherland is responsible by Jos Leeters.

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