India and Netherlands’ collaboration to make India a Food Factory of the world

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Netherlands, being a country with a population less than that of metropolitan Delhi, and with a surface area nearly 80 times less than India, is the second largest agricultural exporter in the world, after the US. In an interview with BusinessLine, Siebe Schuur, Agricultural Counsellor for the Netherlands based in Delhi, explains how the Dutch plan to help Indian farmers improve their farm productivity.

Talking about the Dutch companies and their active participation in various Indian sectors, Schuur says, “First of all it is important to understand that many Dutch agricultural companies are family-owned, small and medium-sized companies. They like to work with similar family-owned companies in India, this is an important ingredient in business-to-business collaboration.”

He further adds, “Dutch companies are active across the whole spectrum, with a strong position in potatoes and food processing – particularly in North India – and in horticulture in South India and vocational education and training across India. In these areas you can see how Indian and Dutch partners combine their strengths.”

Explaining about the issues of water-stress in areas with a substantial and water-intensive range of crops, he explains, “India is a big producer in many areas – mostly for the domestic market, has many climate zones, whereas Dutch vegetable seed companies are very successful in cultivation of varieties that prosper in a semi-arid climate that has become more and more common across India.”

Additionally he said, “You also can witness Dutch-Indian collaboration across various forms of protected cultivation i.e net houses, poly houses, glass houses, leading to what we call hybrid innovation combining the frugal innovation for which India is famous, with Dutch hi-tech.”

Talking about hybrid innovation and it’s working across the nation, he says, “The Centre of Excellence for horticulture in Baramati (Maharashtra) gives excellent examples. A Centre of Excellence for floriculture in Talegaon (Maharashtra) will be up and running by the year-end. Elsewhere in India, the states together with the Centre are in various stages of setting up similar centres.”

Concluding further about the Netherlands’ plans about some joint programmes with Indian institutions, Schuur says, “Yes, and there are interesting sessions during the on-going DST-CII Technology Summit, where these institutions will elaborate on various forms of public-private collaboration, like the session of Green Education Collaboration.
Also, Dutch universities like Wageningen University & Research are discussing collaboration with Indian universities and research institutions on a regular basis, of course in the context of the State Visit more intensively.