Soon after arrival she got to know the minister of Agriculture in Kenya. "It was an open and informative talk. The minister has a lot of respect for the activities that Dutch companies have undertaken in Kenya in recent years, for instance in ornamental plant cultivation. There is a lot of contact between the Netherlands and Kenya and this relationship is also appreciated by the Kenyan government. I believe, for this reason among others, that there are a lot of opportunities for Dutch companies in East Africa."
Your first impression: is agriculture an important economic sector in Kenya and Tanzania?
“Absolutely, agriculture is a very important sector, if not the most important. There are a lot of mouths to feed. The population is growing quickly and purchasing power is increasing, especially in the up and coming middle class. Agriculture offers a lot of people work and an income. This is a boundary condition for the stability in Kenya and Tanzania. The governments are working hard to further stimulate the agrarian sector and are looking to Holland with interest. Our country is crucial for export. The Netherlands is the main export country for Kenya after Uganda. It mainly concerns products from the ornamental and vegetable cultivations."
Are there big differences between Kenya and Tanzania?
“There certainly are. Kenya is very export orientated, especially in intensive cultivations such as roses. Nairobi Airport is the largest cargo hub in Africa and that is largely to do with the export of the roses. In general you could say that the East Africa region is opening up due to the many developments in the infrastructure. That offers opportunities for Dutch companies.
What are important successes for the Netherlands?
“During the construction of the entire decorative plant cultivation in Kenya, the Netherlands has played an important role over the last fifteen years. The large companies such as Flora Holland and Dutch Flower Group all have their own office here. You see the same happening now in the planting material section. A few years ago Kenya's border opened to Dutch planting materials. Since then developments have moved quickly. There are now 34 Dutch varieties on the Kenyan variety list. Agrico is increasing their materials here.
What will you be focusing on over the coming period?
"In the switch from one agricultural council to the other there can be no gaps left, the running files must be completed. One of those is the certification of the Dutch port to export to Kenya."
As a third priority I would like to mention fighting wildlife crime, for instance by offering support to the authorities in Kenya and Tanzania in flattening the export of ivory. That is a basic condition in preserving the lives of the elephants and rhinos in this region."
What is your main advice to Dutch companies?
“It really goes for all countries in Africa, companies that want to gain a foothold here quickly have to have stamina. This isn't the place for quick wins. Even more important: work together, form a cluster of companies from the same chain and make contact with parties in this country, both public and private. The chains from Dutch seeding material and decorative plant cultivation use this strategy. It has revealed itself to be successful."
Source: Agroberichten Buitenland