Richard van Hulst: “MPS-GAP Certification is certainly worthwhile”
Richard van Hulst has been working for two years as quality manager at Zentoo where he is involved in projects concerning sustainability and certification. He is responsible for monitoring compliance with the quality agreements in Zentoo. His extensive experience as an auditor at the certification organisation MPS-ECAS, his previous employer, supports him well in his new position. Richard is from the Westland and has roots in the horticultural sector. He shared with us his experiences with MPS-GAP certification.
"Once we noticed that the demand for sustainable flowers and plants was increasing, we started going for certification. All growers associated with Zentoo are MPS-GAP certified, and I am proud that the whole group now also has the certificate. We feel it is important to show our customers that Zentoo is synonymous with working sustainably."
Smallest possible environmental burden
"Sustainability is important to Zentoo. That is why we demand that growers associated with us obtain MPS-GAP certification. More and more customers are asking for it, but we also consider it important to have the smallest possible environmental burden. Since 2017 we have banned substances that are harmful to bees, the neonicotinoids. We monitor this by regularly taking samples on plants at our growers. In the past few years, we have noticed that our growers are cultivating in organic ways more and more. I really like that development. Major customers keep a database of growers who cultivate sustainably. Recently, Zentoo was added to it, a fact with which I am delighted. It is a kind of recognition of our efforts to promote sustainability."
Sharing knowledge and experiences
"MPS-GAP is a certificate for the traceability of pesticides, the environment, safety and hygiene. GAP stands for Good Agricultural Practice. This certification standard originally arose in the fruit and vegetable sector in Germany. It means that you are working as sustainably as possible. Around twenty years ago, growers in the Dutch horticultural sector started producing more sustainably. There were already growers then who registered pesticides in MPS. Zentoo wants to stay ahead in terms of sustainability, and we stand up for our beliefs. It's important to monitor and register pesticides. It helps growers to keep the pressure from diseases and pests low. The grower can then decide whether additional biological aids are required. In this way, we work sustainably together. We share knowledge and experiences within our cooperative, and we help each other to deal with difficulties."
Start preparing in time
"I worked as an auditor at the certification organisation MPS-ECAS for 8 years. I am happy to communicate that experience to growers who are working towards certification. First of all, I check monthly whether they are complying with the basic principles of certification. For example, do they have the registration of pesticides in order? How do they use energy and water? How do they store fertilisers? If growers have to adjust something, it's usually small matters like installing an eyebath, storing the fertilisers in a closed space or being stricter with the registration of pesticides. A month before the audit, I run through everything once more. And then again a week beforehand. If growers want to obtain certification, I advise them to take the time for proper preparation, about half a year. It is certainly worthwhile because more and more customers are asking for sustainably produced flowers and plants."