On 20th October 2022, a consortium of partners in the horticultural sector composed of local and Dutch companies, in partnership with Stellenbosch University, will officially inaugurate a brand new HortiDemoCentre, and guests are welcome to visit the centre at the open day on 21st October 2022.
The HortiDemoCentre will showcase the best and most cutting-edge Dutch horticultural technology. “The HortiDemoCentre will work towards being a viable business in the long term by implementing innovative Dutch technologies for profitable, productive, sustainable, and climate-smart agronomy and offering training to students (and eventually jobs) and emerging farmers,” the team explains.
All the partner members contribute a broad spectrum of knowledge and technology throughout the horticultural value chain: from seed to market, to aim to develop, together with South African farmers, a business case for production for high-end markets in South Africa. Target groups of the center include commercial and emerging farmers, students, agronomists, researchers, local government and extension services, and value chain actors such as buyers and retailers.
The HortiDemoCentre’s focus on the full extent of the value chain allows them to carry out initiatives that tackle different challenges. Some of the activities, for instance, include training, skills, and knowledge exchange on good farming practices and entrepreneurship for new and existing growers (students) and (emerging) commercial farmers. At the same time, the center will engage other important stakeholders and value chain partners and develop a new market for sustainable agriculture and technologies such as water efficiency, climate-resistant inputs, biological pest management, post-harvest inspection, and certification.
Being a showcase for greenhouse technology, it goes without saying that the center will strengthen the position of (Dutch) greenhouse technology and high-quality inputs in the South African market. It will achieve this by showcasing the technologies, involving investors, and creating a different mindset towards technologies by linking them to the sustainable farming aspects that are needed for future farming.
For instance, some of the technologies that are in place at the center are the Ridder Vitalite systems, which recycle drain water and disinfect that with UV radiation. The fertigation is the responsibility of the Ridder FertiMix unit, sized for this facility. The greenhouse has a motorized shading system to protect crops against excess light levels, and an IP net in the roof vents protects the crops against insect outbreaks and damages.
All of these initiatives are the main drivers that contribute to food security, and the center will also achieve that by increasing the local production and availability of quality food products that are nutritious and safe and allow access to premium markets.
Since the center is in collaboration with a University, research will represent one of the main pillars. The HortiDemoCentre can indeed be a potential site for independent trials in the commercial vegetable sector. Additionally, it will be able to generate local and nonpartisan data on vegetable varieties on behalf of commercial seed companies through being administered by Stellenbosch University.
The opening of the HortiDemoCentre will take place on Thursday, 20th October. The HortiDemoCentre will host an open day for the public on 21st October 2022 from 09:00 – 15:00 at Welgevallen Experimental Farm, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch.
For more information:
Dr. Estelle Kempen
079 881 5058