The Netherlands and South Africa reaffirm commitment to develop climate-smart horticulture sector

During Prime Minister Rutte's visit to South Africa, Dutch Ambassador Han Peters signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with state-owned electricity company Eskom. This LoI reaffirms our partnership to create sustainable 21st century jobs for those affected by the country’s decarbonization efforts. The agreement builds on a similar one taken last year between the Netherlands and Eskom to repurpose coal power stations through the development of a climate-smart horticulture sector.

The Dutch Ambassador to South Africa is seated on the left of the Eskom chairman as they sign a letter of intent
Beeld: ©Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken / William Bowden
The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to South Africa, Han Peters signs the letter of intent with Eskom Chairman, Mpho Makwana.

The early days

In July 2022, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands signed the first LoI with Eskom, heralding the dawn of a partnership to explore opportunities in South Africa’s Just Energy Transition (JET). JET envisions a low-carbon and economically-inclusive South Africa, where the country invests in renewable energies and significantly cuts national emissions. As a result, JET will see the closure of several aging, coal power stations in the coming years.

Situated in rural areas, these power stations are often the sole employer for nearby communities. Understandably, many are concerned for their livelihoods. It is here that Eskom and the Netherlands have identified an opportunity to explore a modern horticulture sector, resistant to climate change, as a means to creating sustainable and long-term jobs for those affected by the transition. Grootvlei power station in Mpumalanga province has been identified as a strategic location for repurposing. Located 100km south-east of economic hubs Johannesburg and Pretoria, just off the N3 highway, Grootvlei is in a strategic position with easy access to key infrastructure and markets.

Over the past several months, the Embassy has commissioned various studies on behalf of Eskom to support community engagement as well as identify areas around the power stations that would be most suitable for agriculture and horticulture production.

Facing the camera, Prime minister of Netherlands on stage with South African president and Danish prime minister as they shake hands with Eskom CEO and Dutch Ambassador who have their backs to the camera.
Beeld: ©Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken / Lucia, D'amour Photography
Prime Minister Rutte, President Ramaphosa and Prime Minister Frederiksen shake hands with Eskom CEO Calib Cassim and Ambassador Han Peters, following Minister Patel's announcement about the partnership between Eskom and the Netherlands to construct a horticulture demonstration facility.

The next chapter

This week, Eskom and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands ushered in the next chapter of this partnership by signing a new LoI. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was present for the signing and was accompanied by South African Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy. This new LoI reaffirms this important relationship and outlines the next stage of cooperation: to construct a 0.5 hectare demonstration greenhouse facility that will showcase the potential for climate-smart horticulture in the region. This greenhouse will be known as the Climate-Smart Horticulture Demo Facility. This multipurpose greenhouse will include crop production, training and showcase of modern farming technologies. It is also expected that the development of 10 hectare greenhouses and 10 hectare open field farms will follow.

These projects at Grootvlei present opportunities for agri-tech companies to invest in South Africa’s JET and to share knowledge and technologies that will contribute to the country’s decarbonization efforts, while creating sustainable jobs and strengthening food security.

President Cyril Ramaphosa shakes hands with Prime Minister Rutte
Beeld: ©Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken / Lucia, D'amour photography
President Ramaphosa welcomes Prime Minister Rutte to the Dutch, Danish and South African Business Forum hosted in Menlyn, Pretoria.

This is an exciting and long-term project that will not only strengthen SA-NL cooperation but is an opportunity to support new economic growth in South Africa.

For more information on the Grootvlei Just Energy Transition partnership, please contact the LAN Pretoria office: