Staatssecretaris van Economische zaken Sharon Dijksma's speech op het netwerk bijeenkomst van Horticulture in Agropark Querétaro
Distinguidos señores y señoras:
Quiero empezar, mi discurso felicitándoles, por el gran crecimiento que ha experimentado su sector, durante los últimos quince años.
Permítanme expresarles, mi sincera admiración. Tengo una sola palabra que decir: ¡fantástico!
Translation - Distinguished ladies and gentlemen:
I want to start my speech congratulating you for the great growth experienced by the sector over the last fifteen years. Let me express my sincere admiration.
I have one word to say: Fantastic!)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Please forgive me if I continue in English – but I think you may understand me better!
Twenty years ago, greenhouse maker Dalsem was the first business to identify opportunities for cooperation between the Netherlands and Mexico in the horticultural sector. Mexico was already a key player in agriculture. This was thanks to its location, favourable climate, abundant arable land and large and excellent workforce. By combining Mexican success factors with Dutch knowledge of covered cultivation, management and quality systems, we were able to bring together the best of both worlds.
We have worked together to improve management of product quality, water use and the risk of diseases. Sometimes by using simple shade netting, but more often through the use of advanced plastic and glass greenhouses. The result is a year-round growing season, and a massive increase in Mexican fruit and vegetable production.
Mexico now ranks among the world’s top producers. It is the leading producer of avocados, the second largest producer of green peppers and strawberries, the third largest producer of red grapefruits… I could go on.
Of course, Dutch businesses and knowledge institutions have profited from this success. Dalsem is no longer the only Dutch business active in Mexico: there are now over twenty five.
But there are still many opportunities to be seized. Although activities have been concentrated in Querétaro, Mexico is a large country with many horticultural regions. Greenhouse horticulture is widespread. However, each state has its own climate and poses its own challenges.
There is great demand for technical solutions adapted to specific regions and crops, as well as cultivation methods that reduce environmental impact while increasing yield and quality. And this is something that is in all our interests. Our countries share the same planet. We have finite resources and less and less arable land, while facing a growing number of mouths to feed.
Doubling productivity and improving quality using half the inputs is no longer an aim but a necessity. We have to support farmers and agribusiness in implementing climate-smart agriculture. As two of the world’s great agricultural nations, it’s our duty to play a leading role, as we did at the UN Climate Summit in New York.
In recent years our countries have exchanged a great deal of knowledge and technology through the Mexicultura programme. That programme ends this year. The Mexicultura partners have now proposed a follow-up: an operational active programme with a strong regional approach. This approach will be based on the triple helix of government, business and knowledge institutes from both our countries. The proposal is now being discussed in Sagarpa. I hope we can get started quickly.
Meanwhile, we continue to support Dutch businesses and institutes interested in doing business, cooperating, or opening branches here. A good example is the recent initiative, Horticonnect, a business platform dedicated to connecting the hi-tech Mexican agricultural sector with Dutch solutions and technical know-how. Horticonnect understands both the Dutch and the Mexican ways of doing business.
Over the last fifteen years, Dutch agricultural exports to Mexico have doubled and Mexican imports have even tripled. An increasing number of businesses have set up operations here, and the cooperation between our countries has intensified. We know where to find each other. We are aware of each other’s ambitions. We complement each other’s strengths. And that can only lead to even better things.
Ladies and gentlemen / Señoras y Señores ,
I’d like to end with a toast. Please join me in raising your glasses to our current ties and future opportunities!