Figures from Flemish farming minister Jo Brouns (Christian democrat) show only 18 asparagus growers still active in Flemish Brabant today.
Asparagus grower Rudi Nys of Holsbeek fingers recent legislation aimed at cutting down on nitrogen in the environment. In addition, urban encroachment also means appropriate land is scarce. Many asparagus growers are getting on and young people aren’t minded to take up the profession.
“Many growers cultivate small plots of land at different locations. The local growers aren’t equipped to compete with large operations in Limburg Province and the Netherlands” says Rudi. “In the Brussels and Leuven areas suitable plots with sandy soil are getting scarce”.
“Recent nitrogen legislation also discourages young farmers. Farmers are already at the back of the line and there’s a big difference between the prices we get and those that asparagus fetches in the shops. It’s the middlemen who run away with the profits!”