036. Agriculture/Turkey and The Netherlands: partners by choice and destiny

Some weeks ago President Erdoğan announced Turkey’s aim to increase agricultural revenue to 150 billion US dollars and increase agricultural exports to 40 billion US dollars by 2023.

Ambitious? Yes. Realistic? No doubt about it.

Turkey’s agri-cultural potentials

Turkey combines a great geographical location with a fertile country and many different climate zones, enabling basically the production of almost all agricultural produce, from dairy to meat, from grapes, bananas to wheat, nuts, vegetables and -my favorite- kiwi’s.

Looking at its agricultural potential, Turkey is underperforming.

Turkey ranks as seventh agricultural country in Europe, whereas the Netherlands ranks second in the world. Yes, in the world, after the United States! This, while the Netherlands has less favorable climate conditions and Turkey is twenty times as big.

When discussing ways how countries should create high income economies, the focus should be on high tech, biotechnology, creative industry and new materials. These are important inputs for any modern economy with high growth ambitions. Agriculture has become a high tech sector.


Sustainable farming in the Netherlands

The agribusiness is one of the thriving forces behind the Dutch economy. At the same time it poses huge challenges to the environment. But: with the right techniques a country the size of the Netherlands could theoretically feed the whole world. The Netherlands continues to develop high tech logistic and distribution systems and is well under way to make the whole agricultural sector much more sustainable.

In the Netherlands about 50 of our 100 most competitive products derive from agriculture and food sector. We have the famous Food Valley in Wageningen with its very productive cluster of government, knowledge institutions and companies combining forces. 12 out of the 25 world’s top food and beverage companies have a major production site or R and D facilities in the Netherlands.  The Netherlands has the second highest private R and D investment rate as % of GDP in agri food in Europe.

In 2012 the total value of Dutch agricultural export was 75.4 billion euros and contributed 52.5 billion euros of added value to our economy. The agricultural sector provides work for more than 660.000 people in the Netherlands. More than half of the Netherlands’s total land surface is used as farmland: we grow potatoes, winter corn, onions, summer barley and sugar beets on our fields. Tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are the biggest greenhouse crops.

Kelle Schouten ,  Polders, koeien ,

Tulip Carpets as symbols of success

The Netherlands is ideally positioned to become the strategic agricultural and agri food business partner for Turkey.

We start to realize this, both in Turkey and in The Netherlands, but more can – and should – be done. There are Dutch flower growers near Antalya, there is cooperation in the vegetables field, the agricultural cooperative Dutch RABO bank has opened its offices last year in Turkey and world’s biggest flower and potplants cooperative in the world, Floraholland, is exploring ways to intensify relations with Turkey. When you look at the picture below this blog, showing the first tulip carpet ever (in Sultan Ahmet) you know that Turkish-Dutch cooperation will lead to great and positive new things.

If the Netherlands, a much smaller country, already has the second largest agricultural exports in the world, then it should be a piece of cake for Turkey to increase its agricultural revenue and exports.

With some supporting partnership from the Dutch of course ;-).



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