India is an agricultural superpower, but there’s still a lot to be gained when it comes to productivity and knowledge. The introduction of the Dutch key sectors policy a few years ago gave a huge boost to the sharing of knowledge within the key sectors, such as agrofood. As a result, several ‘Centres of Expertise’ (CoE’s) have been established. In these centers, industry and knowledge institutions work closely together on the development of knowledge and its distribution. However, the sharing of knowledge doesn’t stop at the borders.
Green VHL University of Applied Sciences (VHL) has gained much experience in Centres of Expertise in the last few years. This experience, and the need for knowledge and development in India, created a first collaboration with Baramati Development Trust and Baramati College, which resulted in the official opening of the first Indo-Dutch Centre of Excellence Vegetables in Baramati on November 2nd, 2017.
Peter van Dongen, head of the Executive Board of VHL, Aldrik Gierveld, Director of European Agriculture and Fishery Policies and Wouter Verhey, Dutch Council for Agriculture in Delhi, were present and spoke to a full house. Also present was Mr. Pandurang Fundkar, secretary of Agriculture in Maharastra.
Peter van Dongen: ‘This Centre of Excellence aims to transfer Dutch knowledge of agricultural development in vegetables, to demonstrate and to train farmers. We have high tech polyethylene hothouses, built by Patron (Dutch company) and Jain (Indian company). These hothouses are among the most modern of India. There’s a lot of attention for the technique and trainings given there. I am very proud of this result, to which we contributed together with other Dutch knowledge institutions. Together we’ve trained the Indian managers of the CoE, partly in the Netherlands and partly in India.
In the following years a dozen other Centres of Excellence will be opened in India, including a Centre of Excellence Dairy and Food Processing in Baramati. This calls for the necessary effort. Since 2012 we’ve gained experience and knowledge of what it takes to have a successful collaboration on a social-cultural and economical level. For instance, in India you only start to negotiate after signing the contract. We’ve brought parties together and put a lot of energy in collaboration. The Centre of Excellence not only offers a high tech training centre, but also a stepping stone for Dutch companies that seek to enter the Indian agro market. VHL can play a significant role in the brokerage.
There is a lot of interest in India for innovation and new techniques. By taking a course at the Centre of Excellence, farmers can qualify for subsidy by the government for innovative techniques.
Peter van Dongen: ‘It’s a great opportunity for Dutch students to do international research and to contribute to knowledge development. Also, more and more Indian students find their way to the Netherlands. They can do research at Dutch companies and bring their knowledge of India to the Netherlands. So it works both ways.’
Companies that are interested can contact professor Rik Eweg of the Applied Research Centre of VHL: