Sweet potatoes are popular. However, cultivation in Dutch clay is a real challenge. Niels van der Waal is a young farmer in Hoeksche Waard. He enjoys the challenge.
Niels says, “The first crates of this season have been harvested. The quality is, once again, good this year. There are good opportunities for this cultivation in the Netherlands." Niels will soon launch Hoeksche Zoete - his own brand.
Niels came upon the idea to grow sweet potatoes a few years ago. “In Egypt, I saw them being grown and eaten on every street corner. Sweet potatoes come from regions with a subtropical climate. Places like Egypt, South America, Spain, and Portugal."
"This product is enormously popular in the Netherlands. So, I wanted to try my hand at it. That is why, last year, I started growing sweet potatoes on a plot of 1,000 m². When I started, a lot of people's first reactions were, 'it will not work, the soil is too dense'."
"It gives me a thrill that I am able to continue. Cultivating in Dutch clay is extremely intensive. Luckily, dense soil also has its advantages. The sweet potatoes' storage and shelf life are much better," says Niels.
"This year, I expanded to half a hectare. I now have about seven varieties and three colors - orange, purple, and white. All of the sweet potatoes are still growing well. They keep growing until the third week of September," he explains.
“There is a huge demand for sweet potatoes at the moment. Consumer demand is particularly high. However, we still have strong competition from import cultivation. We have to deliver high-quality sweet potatoes. So, we are currently focusing on greengrocers. We hope to expand in the future."
Niels is busy setting up his own label. It is called Hoeksche Zoete, a nod to the town where he lives. "With this brand, I want to place emphasis on this local product. I want to make it more known. I see it as a challenge to try something new. That is why I will certainly continue."
"I aim to grow in acreage. Then we can invest in machines and storage facilities. Sweet potatoes need to be specially stored. I hope we can professionalize soon," Niels concludes.
For more information:
Niels van der Waal
3281 KH Numansdorp, NL
Tel: +31 (0) 620 259 998