World Horti Center, which was opened on 7 March 2018 by Her Majesty Queen Máxima, is the knowledge and innovation centre for the greenhouse horticulture sector and a platform where entrepreneurs, educational establishments, research institutes and government come together.
Erwin Cardol is director of Demo Nursery Westland, one of the centre’s four cooperating parties. He explains why all those visitors travel to Naaldwijk: “Our country is a frontrunner in international horticulture. The World Horti Center showcases the entire sector and therefore attracts a lot of interest from a wide range of stakeholders. It’s – for now – the only place in the world where government, business, research and education come together.” With ‘for now’, Cardol refers to the huge interest from abroad in building similar horticultural centres.
The World Horti Center includes research greenhouses, two storeys dedicated to year-round trade exhibitions for the entire horticulture sector and numerous facilities for conferences and events. It also houses the MBO Westland institute of secondary vocational education with 1,300 students. “Many international visitors come to the centre when on a multi-day visit to the Netherlands, during which they explore the various aspects of our agri-food sector. Groups from Asia often include representatives of government and education, whereas visitors from western countries are usually business delegations,” says Cardol.
His favourite groups are those with a strategic mission, “Like the delegation from Uzbekistan last summer,” he says. “First, we received a small group, led by the Uzbek Minister of Foreign Trade. Two months later, the minister returned with a large delegation. It was a more extensive visit this time, aimed at forging tangible connections with companies and organisations that could help his country in its path towards the modernisation and expansion of food production.”