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Water will become the limiting factor

CEO of Bom Group Greenhouse Projects, Mike Vermeij is under no illusion: greenhouses alone cannot solve the world food problem. Not now, and not in the future. However, horticulture technology can contribute to solving problems in other sectors. "Investments in technology enable savings on water, chemicals and soil."


High-end products
During the GFIA in Utrecht earlier this month, Mike Vermeij talked about food production in the near future. His point of view is clear.  "Greenhouse horticulture is not going to solve the global food problem. Local cultivation projects cannot feed the growing world population, neither can vertical farming. All this produces high-end products for a small group of consumers."
According to him, the global food problem needs to be approached in a wider context. To determine the bottlenecks and chances, Mike sketched this future: a growing world population, an urbanizing world and weather and climate change approaching. "There will be more than sufficient energy available. The bottlenecks lie in the use of resources (land, crop protection and fertilizers) and especially in the use of water. Water will be worth gold in the future." 
This where horticulture can play an important role. "Open field cultivation uses more fertilizers and more crop protection than covered horticulture, and in particular a lot more water is used." Nevertheless, switching to greenhouse cultivation is quite often not an option. "Out of practical considerations, you cannot just grow everything in a greenhouse; resources and circumstances are not always suitable for greenhouses."


Less water, less chemicals and less soilt
According to Mike, the solution is therefore a combination of techniques and innovations, tailored to local conditions. "Technology cannot solve everything, but investing in technology can significantly reduce the use of resources. With the right technique, less water is used, less chemicals and less soil are needed."
And that's exactly where horticulture can support. "We have the knowledge on these subjects. Vegetables are grown in the dessert and on the permafrost. We can support companies, people, governments and industries facing these problems."
This offers great opportunities, but also great responsibilities for the industry. "It concerns solving food problems of the future and we can contribute to it. We must continue to promote this. Keep on lobbying, keep on promoting what we are good at and that we want to help. It's not just about BOM Group, but the Dutch horticulture as a whole can help."
And concluding, to the mainly international audience he advices: "Bring in the knowledge, bring in the Dutch. Educate and take responsibility."


Publicatondatum: 25-5-2017


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24 May 2017