By Joshua Kato
When the KLM flight took off from Entebbe Airport, 3rd, June, tomorrow night, there were 13 special passengers destined for Netherlands on board. These are the winners of the 2019 Best farmer`s competition.
This will be the first group of best farmers flying out since 2019. Although they were announced winners in 2019, the COVID 19 pandemic stopped them from going out on this prestigious farming learning tour.
The thirteen winners are: Rebecca Ssenkubuge a strawberry farmer at Garuga Entebe, Christine Kiwanuka from Iganga, Anthony Mateega Naakirya from Mpigi, Dauson Musasizi from Namutumba, Joseph Male from Magere-Wakiso, Charles Byarugaba (68) represented by Bright Mbabazi from Kabale, Nasib Mwaka from Kakumiro, Fred Lugard Ojok from Nwoya, Regina Nabwire from Busia, Grace Kwach, Tom Patrick Oyo from Dokolo, Gideon Akol Emukulio from Kumi and Phenton Tumwesigye from Kabale.
“They landed in the Netherlands at 7:05am, got to the hotel for refreshments before starting the six-day farming tour,” Josephat Byaruhanga, Senior Policy Agriculture Officer at the Embassy of the Netherlands says. Byaruhanga is leading the group. He explained that the farmers have a tightly knitted week-long schedule, carefully arranged for their benefit.
“On Monday, they will stay together and visit mainly livestock groups including Koudjis Nutrition BV, however on subsequent days, they will be visiting farms in three different groups,” Byaruhanga said. The farmers include those engaged in dairy, fish farming, citrus fruits, poultry and vegetables.
Facts about Agriculture and horticulture in Netherlands
-The Netherlands is the 2nd highest exporter of farming/agriculture produce in the world, after the United States of America. The Dutch agricultural sector produces mostly cereals (wheat in particular), feed crops (such as fodder maize) and potatoes. The horticultural sector focuses on vegetables and flower bulbs. Dutch greenhouses produce mostly vegetables and flowers like sweet peppers and roses.
The Dutch agricultural sector exports some € 65 billion of agricultural produce annually. This is 17.5% of total Dutch exports. One quarter goes to its largest trade partner, Germany. Accounting for 10% of the Dutch economy and employment, the agricultural and horticultural sectors play a crucial role.
Support for organic farmers
-Organic farms in agriculture and horticulture care for the environment. They do not use chemical pesticides for instance. To make organic farms more competitive with regular agriculture, the government signed covenants with supermarkets, the Dutch Confederation of Agriculture and Horticulture (LTO) and other parties for the joint promotion of organic products and a wider selection in the shops. These efforts should lead to a 10% increase in the sale of organic products.
Greenhouse as a source of energy
-The government stimulates the development of new, sustainable technology through ‘The greenhouse as a source of energy’ programme. The programme is a collaboration between the government and the Horticulture Product Board and the Dutch Confederation of Agriculture and Horticulture.
Towards a biobased economy
Biomass has become increasingly important for the Dutch economy. The energy, chemical and other sectors will increase their use of green raw materials. The greening of the Dutch economy offers great opportunities for entrepreneurs.
The government wants to promote the use of biomass for the production of fuels, chemicals, resources, electricity and heat. By 2030 30% of all fossil raw materials (oil, coal, natural gas) must have been replaced by green materials (biomass). The aim is to create a green economy (biobased economy) driven by biomass.
Advantages of the use of biomass:
- Biomass products are degradable and not harmful to the environment;
- Biomass is produced sustainably, made from green resources that are otherwise discarded. It relies mostly on residual products from greenhouse horticulture, livestock farming, arable farming and the food industry;
For this reason, the government stimulates research into new technologies and its exploitation. One such scheme promotes the development of green gas and stimulates research into bio-plastics. Innovative entrepreneurs can sign up for the SBIR programme.
- The bio-based economy offers opportunities for Dutch entrepreneurs. It allows the chemicals sector to grow and become more sustainable through the use of green raw products.
Plant Protection Products
Farmers and growers use plant protection products, or pesticides, to protect their crops against weeds, diseases and pests. Their use can be harmful, if, for instance, they leak into food or ground water. The government supports safe and sustainable crop protection.
Before farmers or growers use plant protection products, they must try alternative measures such as growing particular types of crops, or non-chemical crop protection. Plant protection products must be used only if this fail. Their use requires proof of competence.