Alderman Pieter Varekamp of the Westland municipality (Economy, Energy Transition), on behalf of several horticultural municipalities, is calling on Minister Jetten in an urgent letter to make haste and invest in making greenhouse horticulture more sustainable. The municipalities want to sit down with the minister as soon as possible because of the energy crisis. "In the Netherlands, we always invest ourselves out of the crisis to save us from the next one. This crisis is a huge sustainability opportunity. It is time for the government not to save what can be saved, but to invest in what can be made sustainable," Varekamp said.
Photo right: Pieter Varekamp, Fruit Logistica 2020
Horticulture sector crucial for the Netherlands
Annually, the horticultural sector generates 20-25 billion euros. Not only do products grow here, but the industry also thinks about how growers can cultivate and grow them as efficiently as possible. "Not for nothing are the best seed breeders, growers, and nurserymen located within our national borders," says the councilor pointing to figures from Glastuinbouw Nederland (up to 40 percent of companies in the sector could drop out if energy prices remain this high).
"That would be disastrous for Dutch greenhouse horticulture (the second largest economic sector in the Netherlands) and therefore the horticultural municipalities," he said. The consequences for transport and logistics, the innovation and breeding companies, the packaging industry, and the many local entrepreneurs operating around the sector, such as florists, are also incalculable."
The councilor is concerned about this and therefore finds it strange that the government is still waiting to offer perspective. "Crisis time is uncertainty. As a government, you have to show where you can offer security and perspective. This sector itself is reaching out to become more sustainable, and we too, will make our best contribution to this. It is also for the government to encourage that."
Good intentions, but no perspective
Companies within the horticultural cluster have the will to reduce their gas consumption and not only see the need but are also convinced that becoming more sustainable is crucial. "Many of them are therefore already working on it, but due to the uncertain times and great financial pressure, further investment in sustainability is mostly not possible for them at the moment, or they do not dare to do it. The intention is there, the perspective is not," says Varekamp.
He believes the government is thereby missing opportunities, but it is not too late. "The sector is ambitious, as the government should be. As horticultural municipalities, we call on the minister to discuss this with us. We don't want to run away from our responsibilities and leave our entrepreneurs and residents out in the cold."
Source: Municipality of Westland