University of the Fraser Valley student Paul Sangha was practically packing his bags for Holland following an all-day symposium on the differences of farming in Holland compared to Canada.
He wasn’t the only one.
Wednesday’s event, held at Coast Hotels, was a meeting of minds between UFV’s agriculture department and the Netherlands’ HAS Den Bosch University of Applied Sciences.
“[Holland] is so much more advanced than we are,” said 22-year-old Sangha, a second-year horticulture student at UFV, who’s also a commercial and fresh-market berry grower.
“The ways that they’re able to conserve energy is so much better than ours. They have so much technology out there that we could use here, especially with our greenhouses – everything is based on efficiency.”
To a room of about 150 people, including students, professors, politicians, and those in the industry, professors from HAS Den Bosch University and other such delegates from the Netherlands detailed their country’s cutting edge technologies and advanced practices in agriculture and horticulture development.
They spoke of sustainability and greenhouse efficiency and computer technologies.
“I’d love to go there, experience their practices and bring that knowledge back here,” said Sangha. “I think it could definitely make our farms that much better if we brought their knowledge back to our farms.”
Music to the ears of Neeltje Bekkers, head of international education at HAS Den Bosch University of Applied Sciences.
HAS Den Bosch University is ranked as the best horticulture university in the Netherlands, specializing in horticulture, crop farming, biology, animal and environmental studies, food design and innovation, food technology and agribusiness.
“Students don’t learn horticulture by reading about it in a book,” said Bekkers. “You’ve got to go to the university, see how it works, you have to go outside and work and be in the field.”
And arguably, there’s no better field than Holland.
The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, and it has become one of the largest world exporters of agriculture products by adopting some of the latest technologies and cutting-edge practices to make optimum use of its land.
Student exchanges are a key component of HAS Den Bosch University. Every Dutch student who attends must go on a foreign exchange in their third year to learn about other world farming practices.
NAME hoped this new partnership with UFV would attract UFV students to a semester at HAS Den Bosch University.
“We want to do this together,” she said. “We want to organize study tours and bring our future young farmers together.
“Students make the future of farming.”
UFV is researching video-conferencing systems that could be used for networking between students at both universities to discuss each of the institutes.