Colombia has for decades been in the grip of a civil war, but is now well on its way to turning on the world stage. The country is already large in the export of flowers to the US in particular, but is still lagging far behind in food horticulture. Lentiz International was part of a training program as well as a greenhouse building project to help with the transition.
The EU and other governments want to support the fragile peace process by freeing up funds. Minister of Foreign Affairs Blok has emphasized that the Netherlands can play a major role in the Colombian horticultural sector. Colombian entrepreneurs will start exporting tomatoes and other vegetables in the near future. However, there is a lack of the necessary knowledge to get an internationally acceptable product on the shelves. And not to forget, more and more people also want a better and cleaner product within Colombia. To achieve this, the import of that knowledge started well ago through knowledge transfer projects.
One of those knowledge transfer projects funded by the Dutch government is the so-called “Knowledge & Training Center Colombia for Horticulture”. The project has a number of spearheads: building a horti-simulator greenhouse, training trainers and passing on knowledge to local horticulturists. Furthermore, the center serves the greater purpose of promoting Dutch technology and improving local horticulture. bring.
Dutch horticultural companies have built a demonstration greenhouse on the UTadeo site in Chia. Dutch technology is shown to local horticulturists in a small-scale but practical manner. In addition to building in Colombia, a horti-simulator greenhouse is also being built in the World Horti Center. In this greenhouse one can simulate the local Colombian climate and thereby gain more insight into how cultivation can be improved there. In the Netherlands, the greenhouse is known as the “all-climate” greenhouse and it is part of the research facilities of Demokwekerij Westland within World Horti Center.
Another part of this project is training trainers in Colombia. A dozen Utadeo teachers are currently being taught and will receive a certificate from Lentiz Course & Consult. Subjects that have been and are treated by Dutch experts include climate control, crop control, cultivation guidance, substrate cultivation, irrigation and fertilization. But didactics are also reviewed so that the knowledge at the level of the horticulturalists is passed on practically.
The final spearhead, as mentioned, is to transfer the knowledge acquired to the local horticulturalists. The first training days will start this summer and will continue until the end of 2018. At the beginning of 2019 a 9-month intensive course “Protected Crop Production” will be open to gardeners from all over the country. UTadeo will complete this course in collaboration with project partners. The goal is to train 100 growers during the year.
As the secretary of this project, Demokwekerij Westland is responsible for the management and implementation together with the partners of the consortium. Together with Lentiz Cursus & Consult, they organize and provide training for the trainers. Part of the training is provided by the companies affiliated with this project.
In addition to the spearheads mentioned, research will also be conducted in the horti simulators. At the end of May, a first trial will be set up in the newly built greenhouse in Colombia, in collaboration with partners Van der Knaap and Rijk Zwaan. The yield and quality of a tomato variety in the modern greenhouse will be examined in comparison to traditional soil cultivation. Demokwekerij Westland will be actively involved through cultivation guidance and analysis of the results.
Following the completion of the greenhouse, the center was visited on 11 April by a delegation from the Dutch government. This consisted of Patricia de Vries (agricultural attaché of the Dutch embassy in Colombia) and Anne Ligthelm (RVO) and Andrés Santana (agricultural assistant of the embassy).
The project partners involved in the construction of the greenhouse were VDH foil greenhouses, Luiten, Metazet-Formflex, PRIVA and Royal Brinkman. They have arranged the materials as well as the installation. The other project partners in Colombia are in addition to Utadeo, Saenz-Fety and Hortifresco.