Simone Lyn van Oene is director of sales and marketing at Joost Kalanchoe, an 8-ha greenhouse grower of potted Kalanchoe and Euphorbia Miliianas for outdoors and sold the flower auction in Holambra. To expand her already vast knowledge in horticulture, she followed internships at Stefan Slijkerman and Dümmen Orange in the Netherlands, Beans and Greens in the USA and Holambra in Brazil.
“The eyes of the world are turned to Brazil when the subject is sustainability. I guess it is not always easy to know exactly what happens on the other side of the big pond. So, here I am today to tell our side of the Brazilian story.
Reliable data always matters. This is why I would like to mention some figures provided by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) showing that 49,8 per cent of the Brazilian territory is preserved with native forest. Around 25,6 per cent of this area is preserved within rural properties.
This is the result of our current Brazilian Forest Code, which has been in force since 2012. It determines the preservation of areas in rural properties according to the biome where the farm is located. The preservation obligations go from 20 per cent to 80 per cent. In our state São Paulo, the most developed one in Brazil, the Code stipulates that we must preserve 20 per cent of our land.
Narrowing the subject down to ornamental horticulture, 40 per cent of the production concentrates in the state of São Paulo, mainly in Holambra.
Ornamental horticulture represents a minor 0.57 per cent of our country’s agribusiness GDP. But over the past few years, our sector has shown tremendous growth ranging between 10- 15 per cent per year. Ornamental horticulture is not only a rapidly expanding sector of the country’s economy, but it is also an innovation powerhouse, with primarily Dutch hi-tech helping growers to improve efficiency and productivity.
One shining example of horticultural innovation is irrigation. Our company, for example, uses the ebb and flood floors and drip irrigation. Technology has saved up to 50 and 70 per cent of water and fertiliser consumption, respectively.
In addition, ebb and flood systems contribute to a closed-loop system, recycling and re-using all the irrigation water. For the water supply, producers invest in rainwater retention basins. Some companies here in Brazil store up to 700 litres of rainwater per m² of the greenhouse.
From a global agricultural perspective, Brazil is becoming the world’s largest consumer of biological products. EMBRAPA research found that, while considering the growth rate in recent years, Brazil’s area under biological control is more than 70 million hectares.
Unfortunately, we haven’t seen these expressive numbers in floriculture, but when looking back, there have been improvements in the supply and quality of biological products
With all of Brazil’s available sunshine, it was about time solar energy took off. Today it occupies the third place of Brazilian energy sources, mainly due to favourable conditions that made companies invest in solar energy in the last three years. According to a survey, we have approximately 10 megawatts installed by rural properties only in Holambra alone.
These were just some of the sustainable practices applied by our horticulture sector. I hope that I have contributed positively to your perception of Brazil and made you curious to know more! All the data mentioned can be found on the EMBRAPA website, and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.”
This article was first published in the May edition of FloraCulture International.