Greenhouse Insider: Greenhouses Around The Globe

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In the U.S., we seem to have a “steady” greenhouse vegetable industry. It’s not necessarily growing at the rapid pace of the past decade or two, but it is holding its own.

Meanwhile, in countries around the globe, all kinds of things are happening in hydroponics and protected culture. Let’s explore some faraway places.

1. Australia

In Australia, which just held their Protected Cropping Australia (PCA) biennial Conference in Adelaide July 3-6, greenhouse crops are a major business. Their current estimate is that the farm gate value of greenhouse crops is $1.3 billion (yes, billion). This includes tomatoes, peppers (referred to as capsicum by the Aussies), eggplant, lettuce, Asian vegetables, Mediterranean and Asian herbs, and strawberries, as well as cut flowers (roses, gerberas, carnations, lisianthus, and chrysanthemums).

This represents 20% of the value of all vegetable and cut flower production in the country. In Australia, about 10,000 people work in the greenhouse industry, which has an estimated growth rate of 4% to 6% per year.

The primary trade association is Protected Cropping Australia (PCA), which is the newest incarnation of the Australian Hydroponic & Greenhouse Association (AHGA) and the Australian Hydroponic Association (AHA). More information: www.
protectedcroppingaustralia.com.

2. Tibet

According to the latest reports, greenhouse vegetables in Tibet are booming. The climate in Tibet, a region in southwest China, has long periods of good sunshine as well as big differences between day and night temperatures. This allows the area to be very productive.

There are more than 5,000 vegetable and fruit greenhouses in Tibet, producing 2,300 tons in 2010. The estimated income from each greenhouse is 7,000 Yuan ($1,080), with total income of 41,000,000 Yuan ($6.3 million).

More than 60 kinds of vegetables and fruits are being raised in Bainang County, Tibet. Shade nets are used above the crops due to the intense sunshine. Locally produced fruits and vegetables are valued for the health benefits to the local people. More greenhouse construction is being planned. The area planted to greenhouse crops in Tibet was 21,330 hectares in 2010.

3. Uganda

In Kabale, a city of about 44,000 in the extreme southwest of Uganda, greenhouse technology is taking root. A local company, Nile Fresh Produce, in partnership with Israeli and South Korean companies, is promoting greenhouse techniques to enable the region to produce quality vegetables for export.

The consortium is investing 10 million Euros to build the infrastructure for the district so that the local farmers will be able to go into production. In addition to the greenhouses, they plan on building a sorting and grading facility, cold storage, and a processing unit that will handle 1,500 tons of vegetables and herbs per year. The greenhouses and packing area will directly employ 600 people.

Currently, 90% of the vegetables consumed in Uganda are imported from Kenya. This project will provide local farmers a way to grow, wash, pack, and market their own vegetables to grocery stores and hotels. The local government is donating 100 acres for the facility. Once this pilot project proves to be successful, the technology will be extended to several other regions of the country.

In greenhouse production in Israel, which is providing the technology to Uganda, farmers bring in about 125,000 Euros per year. However half of that is used for the cost of labor. In Uganda, labor is much cheaper so profits should be considerably higher. The main crops being considered are tomatoes, eggplant, garlic, chives, and mint. Cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers will also be grown for local markets.

Comments? Drop me a line.

Snyder is a professor and Extension vegetable specialist at the Truck Crops Experiment Station at Mississippi State University.

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