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Webinar series “A one stop solution to feed the world”

Through a series of three webinars, we would like to show how cocreation of future proof production of food and flower systems can be achieved in practice. This webinar series is primarily focused on national and international policy makers, licensing and subsidy providers who stimulate investments in agri-food and investors in horticulture.

This webinar was held on:

  • July 13 from 14:00 – 15:15hrs (UTC +2)

How can we feed 9 billion people by 2050 with safe, healthy and tasty food without further endangering the environment? How can we create livable cities where their inhabitants can live a healthy and happy life? To achieve that, we need to rethink the way we grow and produce our food. We need a sustainable food system that can boost production, the economy, and help us to restore nature and biodiversity. Food security can only be achieved through a strong partnership between governments, businesses, research institutions and citizens.

New sustainable horticultural ecosystems are needed to solve the world food problem and to create livable cities. The growth of mega-cities continues. Fortunately, valuable solutions have already been implemented in the world.

The GCC region in focus

During the third webinar on July 13 2021, we will take you through the relevant developments in the global food and flower market and zoom in on the specific challenges in the GCC region: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain. Efficient use of water, saving water and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN with the help of the horticultural ecosystem is not left unaddressed. Various cooperation models and business models for setting up food and flower clusters will be discussed. As icing on the cake, we hope to inspire you with two showcases from the Gulf Region. 


Frederik Vossenaar

Special Envoy, Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality

The Dutch horticultural ecosystem can contribute to solving the global challenge of Feeding & Greening the cities. Innovative public/private partnerships in horticulture can provide healthy foods to a growing population, and can build a sector that could well become a mature asset class in the future.



Lambert van Horen

Senior Specialist Fresh Produce – Rabobank: Rabo Research Food & Agribusiness

Lambert van Horen has been with Rabobank for many years. Currently he is working as an analyst on developments in horticulture. Lambert has published various reports, presented at several conferences and is instrumental in providing relevant analyses and views for Rabobank deals. Before joining Rabobank, he worked at the Agricultural Economics Research Institute of Wageningen University and the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture. Lambert holds a master’s degree in horticulture from Wageningen University.

Food Challenges and Market Developments at a global perspective – How can protected horticulture contribute to feed 10bn people in 2050?
The world population is growing to approximately 10bn in 2050. Urbanization continues. Climate change can’t be ignored. How can governments cope with these challenges? Fresh produce production can play a pivotal role in different continents to improve overall health. Fruits and vegetables are vital ingredients for a healthy diet, and flowers are important for wellbeing. How can we ensure sustainable production of these crops? Which contributions are possible within protected horticulture (Controlled Environmental Agriculture)?

Erik Smidt

Agricultural counsellor to the GCC region: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain

Since 2018, Mr. Smidt is the Agricultural Counsellor of the Kingdom of The Netherlands to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain, based at the Netherlands Embassy in Riyadh. As Agricultural Counsellor, he is mainly focused on agricultural policy cooperation, promoting agricultural trade, investment, and market access for agricultural products, agro-technology, knowledge and training, thereby placing high importance on food security, quality and sustainability.

Food security in The Gulf region, mix of local production and imports.
Since the COVID crisis the urgency to produce locally and to be less dependent on imports is felt stronger in the Gulf region. Especially UAE and Qatar strive to a very high grade of self-sufficiency in the production of food, where Saudi Arabia is also looking to increase the rate of self-sufficiency. Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman are looking for more local production, but give it a lower priority than the other three countries.

The NEXUS Water, Energy, Food is a leading principal in the region, whereby it is well realized that local production should not lead to exhausting the natural reserves of water. Production of water intensive crops is forbidden in most countries and production in middle- and high tech greenhouses with a minimum of water use stimulated. Also research is done to the use of waste water for the production of some crops as well as to the use of salt resistant seeds, which should make it possible to use less desalinized water in the production cycle. Sustainable Agriculture is also a new trend in the region, where waste flows of one production cycle are used as input in another production cycle.

Bianca Nijhof

Managing Director – Netherlands Water Partnership

A proven, highly intelligent and successful leader in sustainability and water with an extensive network across business, governmental organisations and NGOs. Bianca is an experienced communicator and natural collaborator with experience working at C suite level and in many cultures. She excels in client and stakeholder facing activities with strong client focus, a passion for making a difference and the expertise to contribute to high value outcomes across sustainability, natural capital, water-energy-food nexus, Sustainable Development Goals, capacity building, program management and stakeholder engagement.

Prof. Mark Tester

Chief Scientific Officer and co-Founder – Red Sea Farms / Professor of Plant Science – King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

Mark leads a research group in KAUST, focusing on salinity tolerance of crops; he is also the Associate Director of the Center for Desert Agriculture. He is enjoying seeing research being delivered through Red Sea Farms, a company co-founded with Ryan Lefers, to develop and deliver saltwater-based agricultural systems.

Red Sea Farms: delivering technology-driven increases in sustainability of food production
Red Sea Farms is a KAUST spin-out with the aim of developing and delivering technologies to increase the sustainability of food production systems. Our initial focus is on the substitution of freshwater in greenhouse systems with saltwater, as much as is technically feasible and economically viable. For example we are now growing salt-tolerant tomatoes on diluted seawater, in greenhouses cooled with seawater, cleaning the roof with no water, and using proprietary heat-blocking glass to reduce cooling requirements. These technologies are supplemented with a range of other technologies, such as our own in-house control systems tailor-made for the extreme conditions of the Middle East and solar-powered fans, to greatly reduce risk from (even short) power outages that are also common in the region.

Marijke van Liemt

International Business Manager – NLinBusiness

I work for NLinBusiness (as Manager International Business) , a platform that connects Dutch entrepreneurs with trusted parties abroad, like local business councils, professional service providers, the Dutch diplomatic mission and locally active Dutch entrepreneurs. This makes doing business internationally easier and less risky. We support businesses to identify the right international market(s), build the necessary capabilities and to secure a successful landing abroad.

Sky Kurtz

Founder & CEO – Pure Harvest Smart Farms

Sky Kurtz is the Founder & CEO of Pure Harvest Smart Farms.  Pure Harvest develops world-leading controlled-environment agriculture technologies to deliver sustainably-grown high-quality fresh fruits & vegetables year-round within the harshest climates in the world. The Company’s hybrid growing solutions provide precise climate and environmental controls, enabling increased productivity and reduced waste (including water, energy, time, & transport).  Since its inception, the Company has raised $216 million, making the company the most funded startup in the Middle East in 2020, ranked by Forbes Middle East.

Prior to founding Pure Harvest, Sky Cofounded Vence – a wearable technology solution for animal protein farming that semi-automates rotational grazing, reinventing livestock management. He also served as a Vice President with Francisco Partners, a $24 billion tech investment firm based in California and an affiliate of Sequoia Capital, a world-leading venture investment firm.  Sky invested in and served on the boards of numerous companies across many sectors, with annual turnover ranging from $25 million to $2 billion dollars.

Sky obtained an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and holds a B.S. in Finance from the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU, where he graduated as valedictorian.

Organised by:

This webinarserie is financially supported by the "Strategic Trade Fair Program" of Netherlands Enterprise Agency and Topsector Horticulture and Starting Materials.