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Netherlands: “Mildew-resistant onion of great value to organic sector”

The Dutch province of Zeeland has always been a land of onions. Still, the province has been struggling lately. Not the organic trade though: Franje Onions in Waarde has been shipping organic onions for 20 years. “Twenty years ago we received an order for organic crop, and we liked it so much we kept doing it,” says André Franje, running the company with his brother Jan. “Organic onions are our speciality now.” The organic crop takes about 25% of Franje’s total output.

Most of the organic onions stem from regions like Flevoland and the Noordoostpolder. Things have changes throughout the years however. “Both yield and quality have improved dramatically, mostly through technology and new innovations.”

About half the onions are packaged and marketed under the Organic Onions label and finds their way abroad. The UK is an important destination.

One of the most appreciated advances in technology is the arrival of varieties resistant of mildew. “Onions are not easy to cultivate organically,” says André. “You have to cope with weather, fungi, infections – things that can be tackled a lot easier with regular cultivation. The influx of mildew-resistant onions is of great value to the organic sector.”

The brothers don’t see a lot of progress in the industry as a whole. “We’re not doing bad or anything, but the crisis is clearly present. We are confident things will improve though.”

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