The Dutch have become world leaders in agricultural innovation, pioneering new paths to fight hunger and this while living in a very dense land – 2300 people live per square mile; cutting down water usage by 90%, almost completely eliminated the use of chemical pesticides on plants in greenhouses, and since 2009 Dutch poultry and livestock producers have cut their use of antibiotics by as much as 60%.
It really does not have the resources needed to become the second largest exporter of food after USA, which has 270 times its land mass. Yet, Netherlands has done it! How?
Greenhouses! That’s how the country has transformed itself. Thanks to these climate controlled farms, LED controlled lighting, the country which is so close to the Arctic Circle, is a global leader in exports of tomato, potatoes, onions; it is today the second largest exporter of vegetables overall in terms of value – more than a third of all global trade in vegetable seeds originates in the Netherlands. Furrows of artificial light lend an otherworldly aura to Westland, the greenhouse capital of the Netherlands. Climate-controlled farms grow crops around the clock and in every kind of weather.
Isn’t this the model we need to follow? We too are constrained by space and climate has become a bigger gamble. Netherlands can show us the way out and we too can satiate the hunger of a billion Indians and the rest of the world. Instead of spending billions of dollars on trains which are really not required, isn’t this where all money should be poured in – innovation in agriculture is the future we should bank on.