“Never a boring day!” - Business development in Zambia
Blog by Bram de Vries, Young Expert at VDS A’campo/Holland Greentech in Zambia
‘Developing the next step in horticulture’. That is the slogan of Holland Greentech (HGT), the company I’m working for. But how do we do this? By approaching horticulture as a precise combination of factors. We aim to deliver and support farmers with state-of-the art Dutch products and knowledge, but tailored to local circumstances.
Holland Greentech partners up with several well-known companies in horticulture. We are working together with Rijk Zwaan (hybrid seeds), Bosman van Zaal (greenhouses), Hoogendoorn (climate management), Soil cares (soil analysis and fertilizer advise), Holland Farming (foliar fertilizer supplements), Koppert (integrated pest management) and Rivulis (irrigation technology).
As a business developer in Zambia, I have the excited task to link products and knowledge of our partners to Zambian farmers. To do this, many factors are important to take into consideration: from investment possibilities of farmers, to horticultural knowledge, to market/ business opportunities of horticulture.
Being a Young Expert within YEP Programmes, helps me in my work and daily life as well. It is great to have a network of young people that are spread globally. Sharing experiences can help to place things in perspective. I’m already looking forward to the YEP training that we will have in January next year. It will be the first time that I will set foot on Dutch soil again, and to talk about the many challenges my fellow Young Experts and I all faced over the last year.
I find it very fulfilling to increase the access to (Dutch) technologies in Zambia. HGT sees ‘the next step’ in our slogan as a step that could be a small improvement in the irrigation efficiency of a seedling greenhouse to a big and essential step of starting to do soil analysis. By taking these steps, limited resources such as water, fertilizers and pesticides are used more efficiently, yields improve, better and healthier food becomes available, and the horticultural sector becomes stronger.
In Zambia, the variety of vegetable growers is enormous. From small subsistence farmers that only grow food for their own family, until professional horticulture farmers with greenhouses, growing for the local super market branches and export. HGT is focusing on the different segments of farmers that want to make the next step into commercial farming. This also includes small, entrepreneurial farmers that want to improve their businesses. We want to reach and support them by working, for example, together with NGO’s in sharing knowledge (training) and start using new technologies, such as top-quality seeds of Rijk Zwaan in combination with affordable soil analysis of Soil cares and efficient drip technology of Rivulis. This requires e.g. access to finance, new crop management, the tracking of inputs, timing of irrigation and looking for strong markets.
By working for HGT, together with our partners, I never have a boring day and try to do my best to put products and knowledge from the Dutch horticultural sector into good use in Zambia.