Dutch horticulture suppliers set up capacity building programs

Dutch horticulture suppliers set up capacity building programs for Kenyan growers to maintain food safety & food security

n Kenya there is a growing concern over the safety of Kenyan vegetables and fruits and its affect on health due to extensive use of harmful calcium carbide (used to ripen quickly) and pesticides.

Besides banning the use of some chemicals and stepping up inspections, the Government also aims to take the horticultural industry to a higher level by supporting modern technology and training programs for farmers. One of these demo-projects is implemented at Latia Resource Centre, initiated by the Green Farming consortium existing of e.g. Dutch turnkey horticulture supplier Bosman Van Zaal, and automation supplier Hoogendoorn Growth Management.

The Nation, the local media group, recently published a report that highlights food safety concerns for produce sold on local Kenyan open-air markets and supermarkets. For instance, high percentages of dangerous chemicals were found in fruits and vegetables at supermarkets in Nairobi. To increase food safety and food security in Kenya a consortium of 12 leading Dutch greenhouse technology providers launched the Growing Solutions program at Latia Resource Centre in September, 2015. At three demo-greenhouses, equipped with Dutch technology, knowledge is shared about sustainable and responsible production with local growers.

Different levels of greenhouse technology

The demonstration project consists of three different types of tomato greenhouses (a manually operated greenhouse, a half-automated greenhouse and a fully computer controlled greenhouse). Through an extensive capacity building program local growers will be trained in modern crop growing techniques including biological pest control and the appropriate application of Dutch technology. This approach ensures small & medium sized growers of achieving the highest productivity with minimum use of water and fertilizers. Implementation is financed with support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aiming to give a positive impulse to the Kenyan vegetable growing sector.

Technology suited for all types of greenhouses

At all three demo-units, Bosman Van Zaal delivers the water technology and control panels. Hoogendoorn provides sustainable automation that controls greenhouse equipment such as irrigation technology. Both partners complement each other in the areas of technology, knowledge and experience which enables them to align their technology as well as possible with the Kenyan circumstances. By combining their strengths complete projects, including all types of greenhouses suited for all climates and cultivation methods, can be realized in Africa with advanced Dutch horticultural solutions.

Cultivation Guidance

Both partners have many years of experience in the supply of greenhouse technology, and providence of local service and user training. Since this year Bosman Van Zaal and Hoogendoorn also provide a Cultivation Guidance program. With this 6-12 month program an experienced trainer provides teams new insights on e.g. crop management, fertilization/irrigation, climate control, crop protection, food security and yield performance. With this knowledge growers and their teams can take the farms to the next level and increase business success. Guidance and advice is offered by distance (e.g. Skype) as by in-company training.

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