LTO Netherlands is one of the organizations that support the Green City. Henk Raaijmakers is the chairman of the Dutch Federation of Agriculture and Horticulture. We spoke with him about his organisation and the importance of The Green City Platform.
Can you briefly explain what LTO does and what the organisation’s mission is?
‘LTO Netherlands represents the agricultural sector of the Netherlands. It is goal is to increase the awareness that farmers can make an important contribution to social needs such as nutrition, health, well-being, space, energy, water and climate. We try to achieve a strong economic and social position for farmers in the Netherlands. LTO consists of a close network of people who want to invest in a future-proof sector for trees and perennials. Our products, trees and plants, are essential elements for a green, healthy, safe and pleasant living, working and home environment in the Netherlands and far beyond. We have noticed that the awareness of the importance of green in urban areas is growing rapidly among governments, companies and individuals. Therefore we welcome the central role played by the Green City as a communications platform’.
You are the chairman of the Department for trees and plants at LTO, how would you describe the role of LTO within this sector?
There are about 2,750 Dutch orchards and perennial growers who grow their products on about 17,000 ha. of land in a highly competitive sector in which sustainability is playing an important role. Stores are increasingly demanding sustainably grown high-quality products – all year round. The requested delivery time is getting shorter and the prices are competitive. This requires an increase of scale and more cooperation within the sector. Approximately 75% of our products are exported and it is important that growers can deliver products with the required quality and guaranteed health standards. At the slightest suspicion the borders are closed.
In addition, growers must comply with the production conditions prevailing in the Netherlands. LTO represents the interest of growers in their negotiations with governments and the water authorities. We discuss water management plans and licensing requirements. Also LTO plays a coordinating role in the discussions between chain partners and customers.
What does the sector do in terms of sustainability?
The sector has made enormous steps in terms of sustainability. The use of pesticides decreased with 85% compared to 1998. Container growers use less water by using recirculation techniques, and thus save the environment. LTO is committed to bring these efforts better to life for costumers and consumers. Simultaneously, the organization pleads for the sustained availability of the necessary pesticides that will not harm the environment. In the last couple of years we see increasing risks for our trees and perennials. The citrus long-horned beetle, Xanthomonas arboricola, snow and frost are some of the examples of these risks. The LTO department tries to help growers fight these threats.
What was the reason for LTO to join the Green City platform?
‘The goal of the Green City is to inform and stimulate interest in ‘greenification’ among governments, organizations and companies who are professionally engaged in the planning and development of the urban area. This gives green, and the appreciation of green, the priority it deserves. Green should be used in a creative and innovative way. Awareness, knowledge and information are the key words. In addition, the Green City is a serious and substantive partner for the government, science and politics’.
‘The Green City want to grow the social awareness about the benefits of green. It is our ambition to encourage this by providing information, highlighting good practices and sharing of new scientific knowledge to stimulate ‘green thinking’.
The philosophy of the Green City is comprehensive. There is a lot of attention for public green, such as parks and gardens, but there are many more angles that deserve attention. Think of the landscaping around schools and health institutions, the greenery in and around the workplace, private gardens etc. Also, one gets more and more insight into the potential role of green in the battle against fine dust, as windbreaks and as a sound absorbing element.
Thoughtfully landscaped and well maintained green is an investment that yields a lot. Not only do people feel more comfortable in a green environment, but there are also revenues that benefits business.
Green is not just another expense or luxury, but an investment that yields money. Green benefits all!