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Modern technology in the horticulture and agriculture sectors is in high demand, because it can lead to huge efficiency improvements. But what opportunities are there for the Netherlands and China to work together in this area? Fulco Wijdooge, general manager at Ridder China, supplier of horticulture technology, has been active in China for 14 years now and has been at the Horti Expo. ‘I've been active in China on behalf of Ridder since 2015, and things are developing rapidly!’
‘We're seeing lots of interest in lean-to and tunnel greenhouses, but due to the rapidly growing demand for safe food and the shrinking workforce this is changing rapidly. An increase in scale and professionalization are needed to boost production despite having fewer workers,’ explains Fulco. ‘You can now see the shift in China from small-scale to large-scale projects of more than 10 hectares. This creates many opportunities for the Netherlands. Investors from outside the sector are also beginning to focus on this sector, which is giving a strong boost.’
Shifts are also taking place within the market, says Fulco. ‘The emphasis is now on vegetable cultivation and less on flowers and plants. While the opportunities were previously concentrated in coastal areas such as Shandong and the flower region of Yunnan, we now also see the demand for horticultural technology rising in emerging provinces such as Henan and tropical Hainan. The focus is also expanding, and it is no longer just about technology but also about training, seeds and cultivation knowledge.’
At the same time, there are also many challenges in the Chinese market when it comes to the horticultural sector: ‘One of the factors is the difficult climate – particularly high temperatures and humidity. Another is the fact that there are still too few people with green thumbs to actually manage all the projects. The rapid and immense increase in scale further complicates this challenge. Sometimes there is also too little attention paid to a good business model, while the activities must ultimately be profitable.’
‘These challenges do create many opportunities for the Dutch horticultural sector,’ explains Fulco. ‘In the Netherlands we have a lot of knowledge when it comes to high-quality greenhouses, climate computers and irrigation systems. The trick now is to adapt it to the Chinese situation and combine it with good training. Close cooperation between the business community, knowledge institutions and the government plays an important role in this.’
After 14 years, Fulco still describes doing business in China as exceptionally exciting and dynamic. ‘The enthusiasm and speed with which people work here is inspiring. There are tremendous opportunities and challenges. It may require a different approach, but if my excellent team and I win the trust of Chinese customers and partners, that will lead to good long-term results. There is still so much to do and discover here!’
Ridder is very committed to the development of Chinese horticulture. With a strong local presence and office in Shanghai, the company has been supporting the Chinese horticulture industry for more than 20 years. The implementation of advanced intelligent horticulture solutions and from Ridder enable better crop growth and supports the increasing demand for sustainable, food-safe and locally grown greenhouse vegetables in China. Visit our Chinese website ridder.cn to discover how we can start ‘Helping you grow your way’ in China.
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