Didi Qian

"International cooperation horticulture more than copying and pasting"

There are many opportunities for horticulture in China, but an equal partnership should be the foundation. "Cooperation in the horticultural sector cannot be achieved by simply copying and pasting," says Didi Qian of GreenQ.

Sustainability was an important theme of the state visit to China last month. This is why King Willem-Alexander visited the National Engineering Research Center of Protected Agriculture (NERCPA) project on Chongming Island. This is a Dutch-Chinese collaboration project in the field of sustainable horticulture. The Dutch BOM Group, an international player in the field of horticulture, realized the greenhouse, together with Chinese partner Dushi Green Engineering Co. Ltd. The complex consists of a glass greenhouse of two hectares, divided into several departments. A variety of vegetables are grown. The complex uses modern and sustainable technologies to reduce energy and water use, including the first heat/cold storage in China.

Didi Qian, China manager at GreenQ, which manages the greenhouse, explains how the project was born: "The Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences (SAAS) and Shanghai Dushi Green spoke to Dutch greenhouse builders about the challenges when growing vegetables in the climate of Shanghai. The weather here is very hot and humid, which makes vegetable cultivation difficult. From this challenge then came the idea to build an energy efficient greenhouse on Chongming Island, with the aim to realize more vegetables per square meter with less energy consumption. That was the birth of the NERCPA project."

Sharing knowledge through cooperation
Qian says that the choice for cooperation with the Netherlands was logical. "Dutch companies have the latest technology and knowledge in this field. But when Dutch companies want to apply their knowledge and technology in the Chinese market, cooperation is indispensable. Chinese companies know the climate and the market better and can indicate how Dutch businesses can adapt to local conditions."

NERCPA is not only a platform for Chinese-Dutch cooperation, but also functions as a training center for the promotion of energy efficient cultivation methods. Emphasis is placed on the optimal use of modern facilities, the latest products and cutting-edge methods. Disseminating knowledge to increase the knowledge level among growers is therefore an important function of NERCPA. The project shows that there are technologies available to reduce energy consumption, but that a greenhouse can still be heated or cooled.

Qian: "More Dutch and Chinese horticultural companies find NERCPA an ideal ground to test systems and materials before they are produced on a large scale. We hope that the greenhouse and surrounding park can play a leading role in the development of China's horticultural sector. Dutch horticultural technology and knowledge can be tested here and adapted to the Chinese market to then be rolled out successfully."

Skills and communication are crucial
There are many opportunities for companies in this sector, the greenhouse manager emphasizes, but an equal partnership should be the basis. "Cooperation in the horticultural sector cannot happen merely by 'copying and pasting'. The market, climate, language and culture are all different in China. Integration of Dutch and Chinese technology and skills is essential. Before they go to China we always tell our horticultural specialists: A successful partnership depends 30% on knowledge and skills, but 70% on communication with the local population."

Source: Zakendoen in China [Doing business in China]

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