Dutch water technology and horticulture sectors combine forces in the Gulf Region – hortidaily.com

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The arid climate of the Gulf region poses multiple challenges to its ambitious food self-sufficiency plans. To increase its local production, the region must find sustainable solutions for its water scarcity and a lack of arable land amongst others. More food needs to be produced for a growing population while putting less pressure on the region’s scarce natural resources. To reduce this impact, it is important to approach the water and food sectors holistically.
With ongoing global challenges, the strive for food and water security is more needed than ever. Binding forces between sectors, but also between our countries, is necessary. In that light, a trade delegation of Dutch companies from the water and horticultural sector visited both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for a week-long trade mission to explore the opportunities in the Gulf Region.
The group consisted of companies with various fields of expertise, such as greenhouse building, automation, water treatment, sustainable growing solutions, etc. Furthermore, the delegation collectively offers sustainable solutions for emerging issues related to food and water security, such as brine, water salinity and -shortage, and increasingly saline soils.
Synergy emerges in the Gulf
Commissioned by The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), and facilitated by handelsroute.nl, the trade mission had a full program of meetings with governmental, research, and private sector entities. Besides interactive meetings, there were opportunities to network, and the delegation had several site visits to get a feel for the current developments in the region. The delegation attended an interactive session on the topic of corporate social responsibility, which shed light on the risks and responsibilities associated with doing business abroad.
Due to the dry climate, every drop of water counts and should be used to create the most value and to achieve the ambitious targets set in for instance the UAE’s Food Security Strategy and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. This is where the Dutch horticultural sector comes into play, which emphasizes maximizing the output of used water and offers closed-system solutions—enabling round-the-clock production. Besides that, the Netherlands pioneer in water management.

With one of the highest water usage per capita per day in the world, the UAE has to ensure that every drop of water is used well. All the more so, since the depletion of aquifers and evaporation of used water (over 95% of all consumed water is not recycled) adds a sense of urgency to this issue. Looking to bolster its food production, it is no doubt that the UAE’s demands are two-fold. First, producing more while using less. And second, to improve sustainable practices and infrastructure to reduce net water consumption and spillage.
A food & water secure future
The Netherlands presented its intersectoral Water-Energy-Food Nexus approach at the Dubai Expo. The integration of water and horticulture sectors is the first step in cross-industrial collaboration, ideally culminating in robust public-private partnerships.
One of the key drivers behind the synergy between water and horticulture is the adoption of advanced irrigation techniques tailored to the region’s climate. Drip irrigation, for example, delivers water close to the plant’s roots, minimizing evaporation and maximizing water efficiency. Innovative forms of irrigation and water treatment will have to contribute to large urban landscaping projects, of which the delegation had the opportunity to visit such as the Green Riyadh Project and King Salman Park.
Dutch horticulture offers solutions to global challenges concerning sustainable water usage, including the reduction of nutrient and crop protection agent emissions into water sources, ensuring ample freshwater availability for agriculture, and minimizing the water footprint.
Furthermore, the integration of water-efficient technologies, such as hydroponics and aquaponics, have gained popularity for their ability to grow a wide range of crops in controlled environments. The delegation visited Pure Harvest in the UAE, which operates a hydroponic farm in the Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
In conclusion, the synergy between the water and horticultural sectors in the Gulf holds the potential for sustainable development in the face of climate change and water scarcity. By harnessing innovative technologies, adopting water-efficient practices, and fostering collaboration between sectors, the region can cultivate resilient produce in a challenging environment.
Source: agroberichtenbuitenland.nl
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