Link to home

Overcoming barriers: Dikes, policy, tulips, religion and the Dutch success in agriculture production and trade

Piet Boonekamp: Royal Netherlands Society of Plant Pathology

<div>‘A tiny country feeds the world’ was the title of an extensive article in the National Geographic of September 2017. As representatives of the KNPV, founded in 1891 and the oldest phytopathology society in the world, we would like to present the historical context. Historical factors related to ‘overcoming barriers’ are discussed. With half of the country below sea-level, the Dutch started in the 13<sup>th</sup> century building <em>dikes</em> to acclaim fertile land from sea, lakes and marshes. The necessary egalitarian governing system to control the Polders, led to the <em>first republic</em> of the world in the 16<sup>th</sup>/17<sup>th</sup> century, governed by citizens and not by nobility. The <em>freedom of religion</em> attracted foreign refugees who brought in knowledge and money to boost the economy, and to promote <em>trade</em> all over the world, but also stimulated <em>literacy</em> among all levels of society. These historical factors lead to a perfect birth-ground for well-educated farmers producing exotic vegetables and flowers (e.g. potato, tomato, tulips) in the 17<sup>th</sup>/18<sup>th</sup> century. When mid-19<sup>th</sup> century plant diseases got a scientific basis the Dutch belonged to the first to set up scientific institutes and to connect them with the farming practice in order to maintain the high quality standard of domestic but especially of the exported food products. The close collaboration between science, government and agro-entrepreneurs - the ‘golden Triangle’ - in the 20<sup>th</sup> century shaped The Netherlands into ‘A tiny country feeding the world’ in the 21<sup>st</sup> century.</div>

View Presentation