‘It is our joint responsibility to make the floricultural industry truly sustainable’

The General Members’ Meeting of the 31st of May was a milestone in the existence of our Royal FloraHolland cooperative. With an overwhelming majority, our members voted in favour of the introduction of a Members’ Council as per 1 January 2019, and the continuation of the consultation sessions with members. Obviously, I was delighted with the outcome. Intensive contact with our members will help us make better choices and better decisions.

One of the topics that requires input from our members, is sustainability. A theme that’s high on the agenda of the floricultural sector. Scandals have a noticeable effect. The market demands flowers and plants that have been grown with respect for people and the environment.

Legal requirements with regards to crop protection are strict and they’re enforced by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), among others. Environmental organisations for example, also check the sector through their own inspections. Each violation counts as a blemish. Not just for the relevant company or product group, but also for the sector as a whole. We shouldn’t let that happen.

The stakeholders have also been busy. Like Rabobank, who recently announced that offenders will no longer be considered for credit applications. That’s a strong signal. One that has an impact on us, too. Both on the cooperative, and its members. We can’t be a sustainable marketplace, which is what we’d like to be, if we’re trading flowers and plants that were grown using illegal pesticides. Not just because it’s against the law, but also because buyers and consumers won’t accept it.

Responsible crop protection is a strict condition for the flourishing of the floricultural sector. That’s why we’re discussing with our growers how to achieve this. There are some interesting examples of monitoring programmes in the dairy farming and fruit and vegetable cultivation sectors. They provide an overview of which pesticides are used where, and if necessary, they can trace illegal use. As a result, products that don’t meet the requirements are refused.

Fortunately, there’s more and more awareness of ‘green’ cultivation. Breeders are working on varieties with a high resistance against plant diseases, or that are unattractive for unwanted insects. It is our joint responsibility, across the entire sector, to make the floricultural industry truly sustainable.

Steven van Schilfgaarde,

CEO Royal FloraHolland

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