Japanese high-tech and Dutch horticulture join forces
A Japanese delegation consisting of high-tech companies and startups, research institutes and horticultural growers visited the Netherlands from 11 to 14 June to explore possibilities for research and development cooperation with the Netherlands. The central theme of this visit was the use of robotics and artificial intelligence in greenhouse horticulture.
Following the auspicious start with a lively reception offered by the Japanese ambassador H.E. Hiroshi Minami on the evening of 11 June, the delegation got an extensive overview of the Netherlands and global greenhouse horticultural sector at Tomato World/Hoogendoorn/ LetsGrow.com, Harvest House/Lans, Certhon and World Horti Center in Westland on 12 June. The delegation visited the international horticultural technology fair GreenTech Amsterdam and participated in Japan-Netherlands seminar on greenhouse robotics on 13 June, and saw the evolution of harvesting robots, automation of retrieving plant data and the use of AI at Wageningen University & Research on 14 June.
According to Anneke van de Kamp of the Top Team Horticulture & Starting Materials, international cooperation offers opportunities to accelerate the use of robotisation in horticulture. According to her, the Netherlands has the horticultural knowledge and a unique method of public-private cooperation, and Japan is leading the way when it comes to high-tech.
"If Japanese high-tech and Dutch horticulture join forces, new concepts that are more sustainable and productive will emerge faster. This will allow us to make a solid efficiency improvement in horticulture, in the Netherlands and abroad. This is also desperately needed to cope with labour shortages in horticulture."
Where the Netherlands is praised worldwide for its agricultural and horticultural sector, Japan is known as a high-tech country where robots are widely accepted in society and widely used. Robotisation in Dutch agriculture and horticulture is on the rise, but still requires further development. Annie van de Riet, president of industry association AVAG: "Making robots applicable takes time because you work with vulnerable plants. With the use of Dutch knowledge and cooperation between companies and knowledge institutes, this process can be accelerated."
There are therefore great opportunities for Dutch companies to cooperate with Japanese companies and researchers in research and innovation in the field of digitisation and robotisation in horticulture. This visit is a follow-up to an innovation mission to Japan, which took place in 2022. During this mission, developments in Japan were explored and new contacts were made. There was also talk of a multi-year R&D cooperation between the two countries.
The incoming mission aims to connect Japanese companies and research institutes with Dutch stakeholders and to profile the Netherlands as a partner in the development of robotisation applications in horticulture worldwide using smart sensors, artificial intelligence and the application of big data. From Japan there is a great need for the knowledge available in the Netherlands in the field of greenhouse horticulture. Vertical farming, robotisation, phenotyping and digitisation are possible topics on the joint agenda.
Van de Kamp: "You always have to invest time to arrive at a good form of cooperation with new partners. This is even more true in international cooperation; it is good to discover each other's way of working, build trust and find out where we can offer each other the greatest added value. We do that through these innovation missions. It would be great if, after this mission, we can set up a multi-year public-private partnership with leading Dutch and Japanese stakeholders active in high technology, robotics and horticulture."
Photos by LAN-Japan and Topsector Horticulture