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Celebrating Dutch-Sino Relationships at Expo Floriade 2022

Fifty years of Dutch - Chinese diplomatic relations were celebrated at the launch of the Greenports Netherlands China Portal at the World Horticultural Exhibition Floriade Expo 2022 in The Netherlands. 

A cooperation of GreenPorts Netherlands, The Province of Zuid-Holland and RVO, the Dutch Enterprise Agency, hosted a morning dedicated to Dutch-Sino relationships and developments in the Chinese horticulture industry. The Commissioner of the Province of Flevoland Mr Leen Verbeek and the Chinese ambassador to The Netherlands Mr Tan Jian presented an opening speech. The event was organized by DSBP, Dutch Sino Business Promotions.

Chinese Ambassador to The Netherlands H.E. Tan Jian and Adri Bom-Lemstra, Chair of Greenports Nederland

Ambassador  H.E. Tan Jian lauded The Netherlands as a leading country in the global horticulture market, with cutting edge technology, creativity and originality. China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of horticulture products. The Chinese Pavilion at the Expo is dedicated to bamboo, a Chinese symbolic plant, resilient, renewable, and with a long cultural history.

Adri Bom-Lemstra is the Chair of Greenports Nederland, a national industry body for the Dutch greenhouse industry. The Netherlands differentiates its market position by not exporting products but know-how, by having expert knowledge on how successfully produce vegetables in very different climates.

The highlight of the morning was the official launch of the digital Dutch-Sino Agri-Horticultural Cooperation Forum. The Forum is an online database with policy research, a calendar of horticulture activities, a project map of China showcasing new and existing greenhouse projects, and information and blogs about trends in China’s horticulture industry. It is a free service offered by GreenPorts Netherlands, the Province of South-Holland and RVO to stimulate collaboration between Chinese and Dutch partners.

Festive launch of Dutch-Sino Agri-Horticultural Cooperation Forum

ICBC is one of the sponsors and supporters of the day. Li Feng, General Manager ICBC (Europe) Amsterdam Branch introduced the bank’s market position in China and its relations to agri investing. ICBC has been supporting international cooperation in responsible banking and green bonds. It is China’s largest bank, active in sectors including the agri-food industry, greenhouse development, seeds, and biotechnology, and supporting Dutch companies entering the Chinese market. The bank follows the one-year Chinese governmental plan for agriculture, promoting investments in green energy, modernization, energy renewal, digital farming, big data analysis and IA. Another remarkable feat is that the RMB is increasing internationalized, facilitating direct international transactions in the currency.

Li Feng, General Manager ICBC (Europe) Amsterdam Branch

Annette Wijering is Director at the International Trade Department of the Dutch Government. China is one of the largest markets outside the EU for Dutch export companies. To estimate the size of Dutch-Sino cooperation; the Department works actively together with more than 1,300 Dutch companies currently operating in China and supports an additional 2,000 companies with information and guidance. Food quality and food security globally are key areas where Dutch companies can distinguish themselves. China, however, is not an easy market for Dutch entrepreneurs, who are facing different legal systems and a different IP market.

Annette Wijering (L), Director at the International Trade Department of the Dutch Government and Wil Bekkering, Director of Aeres University of Applied Sciences.

The program shifted to more horti-tech developments both in China and internationally.

Martin van Gogh is Division Director at Batenburg Group, the parent company of Hoogendoorn Growth Management, active in China through an office in Beijing launched in 2014.

Martin van Gogh (L), Division Director at Batenburg Group and Marco Homburg, Senior Vice President at ICBC (Europe) S.A. Amsterdam Branch.

Feeding and greening the world is one of the company’s slogans. It sees food supply to megacities as one of the major challenges of the 21st century, intensified by climate change, lack of water, energy, the need for a circular economy, and global geopolitical unrest. Investors and governments globally are looking for local food production, safe food and providing food security, for which local greenhouses might be a solution. China is a large potential market for the Group, which specializes in data-driven growing and autonomous growing, producing high yields and constant levels of production. The company’s data-driven growing practices facilitate ways to guarantee that greenhouses built in China produce similar yields to those in Europe.

Aeres University of Applied Sciences is a Dutch vocational college specializing in horticulture education and training. Wil Bekkering is the school’s director. She explains that the industry is in need of educated and trained people and researchers, specializing in areas including green knowledge in urban areas, food, nature, and sustainability. The school is open to cooperation with Chinese counterparts.

Dirk Aleven, CEO at Food Ventures.

The day was concluded by a speech by Dirk Aleven, CEO at Food Ventures. Food Ventures produces vegetables locally, with Dutch expertise. The company is active globally, with an active greenhouse in the outskirts of Shanghai. Food safety and security are huge challenges the world is facing with its growing population and limited natural resources. People will have to change their diets, eat less meat, more greens, produced in sustainable ways. This will include fruit and vegetable production in greenhouse near cities, enabling 90% less water production, biological protection and the reduction of food miles. The Dutch greenhouse sector is strong because The Netherlands is a hyper-competitive market for greenhouse products, in which growers reached one of the highest productivity levels globally, but are gaining the lowest margins. It is not enough, however, to copy-past Dutch growing technology to other markets, as these markets will face other challenges including the development of the full supply chain from the development of the greenhouse to maintenance and finding the right buyers and retail channels.

Guests Robin van Keeken, Business Development Manager at Buren N.V. and Gert Dral, China Advisor at Dutch Greenhouse Delta.

The company rents greenhouses from investor firms that want to own the bricks and mortars, but do not want to operate the facilities. It takes full operation risks by bringing in own capital and people, and generating local earnings by supplying local markets. It currently operates a 17.5-hectare greenhouse in Shanghai’s city center with a newly launched local brand VitaBite, celebrating Dutch-Chinese cooperation and availability to consumers within 24 hours after harvesting. Dirk concluded the day that according to his experience, wide availability of talented, educated and enthusiastic people for the horticulture industry is not a problem in China. A very encouraging remark, considering the future challenges this industry is set to tackle both in China and abroad.

Xiaojia Xu, Founder HollandChina Consulting, and Martin van Gogh, Division Director at Batenburg Group 

Karin Seuf, Horizon Nederland, Rutger Lommerse, GreenPort Nederland and Floriske Deutman Managing Director at Dutch Sino Business Promotions and co-host of the day.

ChenLei Wu, ICBC, Queenie Li, AKD, Xiongwei (Tony) Cai, ICBC and Peter Dong, ICBC

Entry to Chinese Bamboo Garden, China's National Pavilion at the Floriade Expo 2022

China's National Bamboo Garden Pavilion