The production of sufficient food of reliable quality is one of the province of Zuid-Holland’s top priorities. Zuid-Holland’s agriculture and horticulture sectors play a significant role in ensuring a steady food supply and in meeting societal challenges such as food safety, food security, sustainable energy and the bio-economy.
The province’s greenports (large horticultural clusters cultivating vegetables, flowers, flower bulbs, trees and plants) allow the entire production process to be monitored and controlled, thus guaranteeing constant quality through constant conditions. However, European laws and regulations are not fully compatible with sustainable production in greenports; Zuid-Holland is therefore seeking to influence the regulatory framework.
Horticulture faces major challenges, such as regulating organic produce and reducing CO2 emissions, but lacks a strong position in European policy development. The sector plays a pivotal role in the international trade in ornamental flowers and food products and is therefore of great importance for the current and future international competitiveness of Europe. The future of the horticulture sector is a subject of discussion at European level, but it is now essential to improve the European laws and regulations.
Projects in the field of geothermal energy, heat networks and heat exchange can enable the horticultural sector to reduce CO2 emissions and become less dependent on gas. The circular heat network (‘warmterotonde’) is an example of this. The province is the initiator of the Zuid-Holland Heating-Cooling partnership, allowing the horticultural sector to use geothermal and residual heat from the port area.
Fieldlabs can develop, demonstrate and test innovative solutions for a steady and sustainable food supply. For example, the FreshTeq fieldlab is working out new ways to supply cities with sufficient fresh and healthy food. Zuid-Holland seeks EU funding for specific projects in this context.
The common agricultural policy strives to ensure the production of sufficient and affordable food within the EU. This policy has significant effects on the agricultural sector in Zuid-Holland. The rural development programme (POP3) 2015-2020 is aimed at sustainable and innovative agriculture with closed cycles and short food chains, as well as improved environmental, soil, water and nature quality. In the coming years the province will allocate the available POP3 funding to relevant projects. In addition, in view of the discussion surrounding other cohesion funds, we must also start thinking about the programme beyond 2020.
Zuid-Holland has an active role in European networks on themes such as organic produce, CO2 emission rights, crop protection agents and energy. In 2015, the provinces of Zuid-Holland and Noord-Holland became members of the ERIAFF-network in order to promote the horticultural sector in Europe, and to seek potential partnership with other regions.