Ag-journalist visited Flanders – “the kingdom of horticulture”

Deaurinko@Depositphotos
Low-budget press trip to Belgium 2021
September 13, 2021

ENAJ ag-journalists captured a very detailed picture of the high level of Flemish agriculture

Written by: Lisa Bellocchi

Flanders, in the northern part of Belgium, is called “the kingdom of horticulture”. With a good reason. Many innovative companies, from seeds to frozen vegetables, are based right here.

Thanks to the Belgian Guild of Agricultural Journalists (BVLJ-ABJA), ENAJ led a group of European journalists (with two Canadians too!) to visit advanced plants. The keyword for them all is “sustainability”.

The headquarters of Ardo Corporate is in Ardooie, where the Group connects activities from 9 countries, mostly European, but also China, Canada and Costa Rica.  3.500 growers and 4.000 employees are in charge of growing areas, freezing units and storage centres. Project MIMOSA, an acronym for “Minimum impact, Maximum output, Sustainable agriculture”, ensures a huge quality control during the producing chain of hundreds of frozen products, fresh-frozen or ready-to-eat. In the last 5 years, organic production has doubled.

“Flandria” is an important label for the District’s food products. Farmers are fully committed to finding new products or new producing strategies. The “proefstation” for vegetable cultivation in Sint-Katelijne Wawer since 1963 is the central link between farmers, government, suppliers and universities. Sixty researchers test crops, fertilizers, lighting, integrated pest management and hydroponic cultivation systems.

Organic fertilizing is one of the three core businesses of DCM, a family international manufacturing company involved also in animal care and biosciences. DCM researchers recently found a vaccine and a control strategy against the Pepino tomato Mosaic virus. They also studied viruses bacteriophages against Ermynia Amylovora, a big threat for pears and apples in all Europe.

Innovative automation in the greenhouses led Hortiplan experts to project the MGS, mobile gullies system: a channel of PVC injected with water and nutrients, ready for lettuce seeds. As they grow, a computer-based system distances the rows, to allow leaves to enlarge. Hectares of salad are produced in this way: in Scandinavia, 95% of lettuce is planted out of the soil. Hortiplan, which is one of the 40 brands of Arvesta, is now preparing a “mobile system” for leeks too.

One thousand and two hundred growers in more than 75 countries supply over 140 types of vegetables and fruits to BelOrta, one of the leading cooperative auctioneers in Europe. In the modern salesroom, six computer auction clocks sell up to 4.000 tons of products. The top vegetables are tomatoes, cucumber and Belgian endive; the top fruits are pears, strawberries and apples.

Greenyards lorries never travel without a full charge, due to a strong ecological commitment of the company, which produces fresh, frozen and prepared F&V. Integrated logistic chain and transparency, together with the work of about 9.000 employees worldwide, are the pillars of success of this global company.

Turning among tomatoes and carrots, green beans and strawberries, and tasting delicious vegetarian food, ENAJ ag-journalists captured a very detailed picture of the high level of Flemish agriculture. Their key players are working hard for the best products in a more sustainable way.