VB Group's Edward Verbakel about Dutch standards in Mexican greenhouses:

"Mexico: "Keep telling growers to think per square metre"

Already since 2006, VB Group is active in Mexico. Talking to VB's Edward Verbakel at the Expo AgroAlimentaria Guanajuato in Irapuato last month, we discovered that since then, VB has been involved in many nice projects.

"Over the last few years we have been involved in the construction of, in total, more than 60 hectares varying from complete turn key projects to greenhouse projects with delivery of heating systems only," said VB Group's managing director. VB has been active all over Mexico. From Chiapas in the South to Monterrey in the North. Next to this we also had the chance to deliver a number of large projects in AgroPark in Queretaro. We started off in 2010 with the construction for Finka. We delivered two high tech greenhouse operations for them. In 2012 we started the construction of a greenhouse heating installation for Solar Gardens together with Hortimax and Prins and right now we are preparing another 5 hectares for them."

Finka 1 and Finka 2 at the Agropark in Queretaro

Heating & CO2

According to Verbakel, more and more growers in Mexico are interested in greenhouses that are equipped with heating installations. "About a year ago, we started off with a project for La Huerta in Aguascalientes. They used to grow without a hot-water heating installation, but eventually the growers became aware of the added value from the combination of heat and Co2. For them it is one of the few tools to obtain a stable climate year round, with quality produce in return." The work in Aguascalientes is still in progress for the projects of La Huerta. Eventually the infrastructure and the heating system will be suitable for a total of 16 hectare."

Construction in Monterrey

As more and more growers and investors in Mexico are leaning towards modern techniques, the Dutch greenhouse builder notices a variety of construction companies and suppliers entering the market. "In the past we were only noticing other Dutch companies as our competition here, but nowadays also Mexican, Spanish, Israeli and French greenhouse suppliers are offering more or less similar systems. Luckily, the Dutch are still respected and well known for their knowledge and innovative mindset."

Solar Garden

Think per square meter

"Still, we are asked quite often to share our knowledge and for us it also an inviting challenge to implement the Dutch standard into an existing culture. We do not immediately try to sell a high tech greenhouse solution, but we are more often than not, trying to make growers work according to Dutch standards inside their operations. Whether it is a low-tech or a medium-tech plastic greenhouse, we just want to get them to work to an optimal level complete with modern equipment and internal facilities. Another thing we would like to change is the mindset; we keep telling growers to start thinking per square meter. Not only in terms of cultivation, but also in terms of investments they should think per square meter like we do in The Netherlands."

VB Group's Edward Verbakel together with Wil Lammers from HortiMax at last years Expo AgroAlimentaria Guanajuato in Mexico.

Forward looking, Verbakel's opinion on the development of the Mexican market is positive. "The US demand for greenhouse produce increases, so production is wanted. The investment drive to build new greenhouses in Mexico might not be as high as a few years ago, but I still see lots of chances. Maybe there are fewer big investors but there are still a lot of growers that are looking to improve their current greenhouse operations or that want to expand, so in the coming years there will still be enough work for us over here."

For more information:
VB Group
Edward Verbakel

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