Agribusiness: Longstanding Co-operation between the Dutch and the Chinese

The year 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the governments of the People’s Republic of China and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Cooperation in agricultural development has always been a part of those relations. For agriculture China is the largest non-European trade partner of the Netherlands, even larger than the US. The export value of Dutch agricultural products to China amounted to €4 billion in 2021.

The Dutch have specialized in farming for ages, and they are known for their plant breeding and the breeding of animals, or the development of agricultural technology. The Chinese know very well where to find their specialists worldwide, and for agricultural knowledge they often come to the Netherlands. China sees the Netherlands as an important partner in agricultural development. Having a leading agricultural university as Wageningen UR is also very beneficial for the success of the Netherlands in China. Vice versa, China is leading the way in high-tech, and the Dutch in turn can learn from that, although some of the new technologies that are allowed in China, technologies like CRISPR-Cas in breeding, are not allowed in Europe.

In the 1990s Dutch agro-specialists built public-private demonstration centers in China, one for dairy (SIDAIR), one for pigs and poultry (SIDAC), and one for horticulture (SIDHOC). SIDAC was opened in 1997 by President Wen Jibao.

In 2022 a new Research Test & Training Centre (RTTC) was completed in Anping, Hebei province, where Dutch knowledge and expertise is used to create sustainable pigfarming including better living conditions for people and animals. The center is led by Royal Agrifirm Group and works closely together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), the Agricultural Council of the Dutch Embassy in Peking and NLWorks, in coordination with the (local) Chinese government. ‘To have a real impact on the Chinese pig farming sector, you have to operate on the basis of a broad public-private consortium,’ says Maurits van Os, Deputy Director NLWorks. ‘Thanks to the support from companies and the Dutch government, we are taking an important step towards a sustainable earnings model for China, as well as the Netherlands, with the construction of the RTTC.’

Another Dutch specialty China is interested in, is greenhouse technology. Around 60 to 70 companies in the horticultural chain now have representation in China.

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