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Reasons of the Developed Agriculture in Netherlands

Dutch agricultural exports reached €94.5 billion in 2019, up 4.5 percentage points from the previous year, and agricultural imports reached €64.1 billion, up nearly 4%. the Dutch agricultural trade surplus in 2019 was more than €30 billion. Five categories, including vegetables, horticultural products, fruit, milk and meat, accounted for more than 40% of the total exports of Dutch agricultural products, with horticultural products having the highest export value of €10 billion, followed by meat, with exports of more than €8 billion. Dutch agricultural products are mainly exported to European countries, with Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom ranking in the top three. According to statistics, Germany imports 23 billion euros of agricultural products from the Netherlands every year.

With a land area of 42,000 square kilometers, the Netherlands is not rich in land resources, as its territory is all low-lying plains. With a population of 16 million and a population density of over 400 people per square kilometer, it is a country with many people and little land. However, such a country with inherent lack of resources is unique in agriculture. Its agricultural exports are second only to those of the United States, and it is undoubtedly one of the world's leading agricultural powerhouses. What are the reasons of the developed agriculture in Netherlands?

  1. Soilless cultivation

In Dutch facility cultivation, the proportion of soilless cultivation is as high as 80%, while the proportion of soilless cultivation in facility gardening is as high as 90%. Among them, most of the Dutch soilless culture uses rockwool cultivation, which is a cultivation technique in which plants are planted in pre-made rockwool.

The Dutch facility cultivation is based on high standard continuous greenhouse. The use of advanced cultivation techniques and supporting modern hardware and equipment improved the yield per unit area.

Soilless cultivation using rock wool as substrate is called rock wool culture, which is a new technology of soilless cultivation, and the vegetables and flowers cultivated by rock wool not only have high yield, but also have good quality and less pollution. In this way, it ensures low cost and high premium.

Modern cultivation technology is the core of the development of Dutch greenhouse agriculture. Modern production technology includes variety selection, plant management technology, soilless cultivation technology, grafting technology and so on. Dutch greenhouses adopt automatic irrigation system and precise fertilization of greenhouse crops, while insisting on source control and integrated pest prevention and control to guarantee product safety.

  1. Greenhouse farming

The Netherlands has limited land resources and insufficient light, such conditions did not become an obstacle to the development of Dutch agriculture, on the contrary, since the 1950s, the Netherlands began to develop greenhouses, they rely on glass greenhouse technology, vigorously develop facility agriculture, break through these restrictions and bottlenecks, and let this small country with an area of only 40,000 square kilometers, leap into one of the global agricultural powerhouse, creating a miracle of agricultural exports of the world's second.

According to statistics, the Netherlands has 11,000 hectares of glass greenhouses, accounting for about 1/4 of the total area of greenhouses in the world. In the suburbs of the Netherlands, concentrated greenhouses can be seen everywhere, and the scale of the average greenhouse can reach about 40 hectares. The greenhouses are equipped with advanced technology, which can significantly improve the light transmission rate, reduce the weight of greenhouse construction materials, and enhance the wind and pressure resistance of greenhouses, thus significantly reducing energy consumption. At the same time, greenhouse production efficiency has increased significantly. For example, the yield of an average tomato plant in a glass greenhouse can reach 30-40 kg; moreover, according to statistics, the annual output of cut flowers in glass greenhouses nationwide can exceed 2 billion euros. Supported by well-developed facility agriculture, the Netherlands has leapt from a resource-poor country to a world leader in agricultural exports, exporting about 17 million fresh cut flowers and 1.7 million pots of flowers to the world every day.

The glass greenhouse environmental control is fully automated, including light system, heating system, liquid fertilizer irrigation and fertilization system, carbon dioxide replenishment device, and mechanized picking and monitoring system. The full automation of the glass greenhouse, together with advanced knowledge and technology, produces very high yielding and high quality crops, and the produced agricultural products are mostly exported to other countries.

  1. Cooperatives

Dutch agriculture has corresponding cooperatives from seedlings, planting, service organization, acquisition, sorting, and sales, all of which are clearly divided, yet closely collaborated.

The main function of credit cooperatives is to provide timely and sufficient financial security for farmers to purchase production materials, upgrade equipment and develop production.

Supply cooperatives are mainly engaged in the joint bulk purchase and unified supply of production materials.

Agricultural products processing cooperatives are responsible for the processing and sales of agricultural and livestock products.

Sales cooperatives are responsible for organizing the sale of agricultural products in large quantities to the outside world, and the most typical sales cooperative is the auction market formed by farmers.

The service cooperatives are mutual insurance companies, agricultural machinery companies, agricultural science and technology testing and extension departments, agricultural storage bases, relief service centers, and agricultural management counseling stations, etc., which provide farmers with various quality services.

Dutch agricultural cooperatives have a multiple membership system, i.e. a farmer can be a member of several cooperatives at the same time; farmers participating in cooperatives can not only benefit directly in terms of technical services, production materials supply and agricultural products sales, but also share the value-added of industrial links such as sorting, storage, processing and packaging through the profit rebate of trading volume with cooperatives. The whole industry chain development model of cooperatives extends the industrial chain, enhances the added value, strengthens the market competitiveness, and more importantly, strengthens the interest incentive for farmers and increases the recognition and cohesiveness of farmers' participation in cooperatives. In order to protect the interests of cooperatives, all agricultural cooperatives are organized in the National Agricultural Cooperative Bureau, whose responsibilities are mainly to represent the interests of cooperatives, coordinate the relationship between cooperatives, coordinate the relationship between cooperatives and other economic organizations, and promote the development of cooperative business.

  1. Auction markets

The connection between auction markets and farmers is the most characteristic model of Dutch agribusiness. The biggest advantage of the auction market is the high efficiency of the transaction, which on the one hand enables direct contact between producers and buyers, and on the other hand leads farmers to standardized production with strict quality standards.

  1. Agricultural Education

The Netherlands has a well-developed agricultural education, research and extension system. Agricultural education, research and extension are regarded as the three pillars of agricultural development and integrated management in the Netherlands. The government attaches great importance to the agricultural development of agricultural education, research and extension as an important government responsibility, agricultural education has formed a very sound system, education is the Dutch farmers have a high quality, most farmers are fluent in English, can keep pace with the world's agricultural technology development, which is the cornerstone of Dutch agriculture with high competitiveness.