A consortium of Dutch companies specialising in all aspects of horticultural cultivation, including finance and technology, would launch two projects — one each in Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, according to a top executive of the consortium.
“We are here to show Indian farmers that enough money can be made from agriculture. The Netherlands is the second largest exporter in the world and we earn a lot of money by exporting food,” said Desh Ramnath, Director Business Development for Dutch Greenhouse Delta (DGD), a consortium that has been formed about two years ago to market the famed horticulture industry of The Netherlands worldwide.
“In Uttar Pradesh, we have zeroed in on Kanpur and in Himachal Pradesh, the discussions are currently on to choose between two locations identified by the State government,” said Ramnath, who is currently in India to showcase what the Dutch companies can offer.
“The prices of vegetables in The Netherlands are either same or lower than that in India. But our horticultural industry still makes profit because of mass production. Thanks to better quality seeds and technology deployed, our yield is 150 times higher from the same area. Our glasshouse technology makes it possible to produce vegetables and flowers round-the-year,” said Ramnath, whose forefathers settled in Surinam from India centuries ago.
“While our production is 150 times higher, water consumed for our projects is 96 per cent lower than conventional farming,” he said adding that the consortium has as many as 20 different firms specialise in every aspect of horticulture ecosystem, ranging from greenhouse construction, control systems, seeds, finance to marketing of produce.
These projects are still in validation and feasibility stage, awaiting input from local partners, clients and governments. Sounds far away, yet all parties concerned are aiming to get these projects started within the year, he said. According to him, some of the Dutch companies, which are part of the consortium are already working on smaller one-off projects in India. Others have already supplied parts to some Indian start-ups and larger entrepreneurs in India.
DGD already have similar projects which are either in a later stage of up and running in China and Kazakhstan, he said adding that the consortium plans to expand the operations to countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as those in the Gulf region, apart from India.
He said the investment for the Indian projects would be taken care of by the Dutch companies in the consortium, which includes Rabobank, the Dutch bank known for its agricultural focus, local and foreign investors and banks. “Maybe if needed in the starting stages some subsidies may be provided by the Dutch or Indian government, but the subsidy will not be the main goal of reason for success, since we know that our way of working does not need government subsidies,” Ramnath remarked.
They are already talking to major hotel chains, restaurants, superstores and others to market the produce, even though they are yet to finalise what sort of vegetables will be grown in these glasshouses. Once these projects become successful, similar projects may be taken up in other parts of India.
“We are looking for those farmers who do not want to be farmers anymore but are forced to be due to their own living circumstances. Those farmers can contribute their land as land leasers or future shareholders in this new venture. Secondly, they can come work in this new greenhouse to earn a very decent living which is way above the standard they are used to. Keep in mind that a monthly income of 500 euro (Rs 40,000) would be normal, maybe even more depending on the growth of the company,” Ramnath told BusinessLine.