Interdisciplinary Thesis Lab 2022-2023: Sustainable Horticulture Agadir

LDE Centre for Sustainability, HortiTech and World Horti Center have joined forces in their mission to set up greenhouse activities in a sustainable manner in Agadir, Morocco. From February to July 2023, we are running the LDE CfS Interdisciplinary Thesis Lab Sustainable Horticulture Agadir. The lab program includes a 9-days excursion to Morocco, in which students will get an overview of the sustainability and horticulture challenges in Agadir. Applications have closed, it is not possible to enrol for this lab anymore! 

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Challenge: How can protected greenhouse activities be set up in a sustainable manner with low water use in Agadir, Morocco? 

The world’s population is growing, urbanizing and is demanding safe and healthy food, available in sufficient quantity at good quality. The Netherlands are in a leading position in protective cultivation. Below The Hague and next to Delft and Rotterdam is the “Westland” region, a world technology- and production champion both in quality and quantity. The technology is not only used locally, for the European market but is exported around the globe. There’s hardly any country in which no Dutch horticulture technology can be found, ranging from seeds to complete greenhouses.

An example of this is Agadir region, at the Westcoast of Morocco. With a total cultivation area of 20.000 ha of mainly plastic greenhouses the Agadir region is one of the biggest greenhouse areas in Africa. They are facing the challenge of water usage of the greenhouse in relation to the efficiency of production. The Moroccan government together with the Dutch government have the ambition of creating a centre of excellence Horticulture at the Campus of the Institute Agriculture et Veterinaire (IAV) Hassan II just south of Agadir.

For this purpose, the Dutch companies HortiTech and HortiXS are currently building a greenhouse for demonstration and research purposes on sight of the campus. Other Dutch protected cultivation companies are also involved developments in Agadir, by sharing their knowledge and expertise through an 'Impact Cluster’. All these companies are also united in the World Horti Center in Naaldwijk, The Netherlands. WHC is the knowledge and innovation center for international greenhouse horticulture.

One of the key questions is how protected greenhouse activities – glass or plastic greenhouses – can be set up in a sustainable manner with low water use in Agadir, Morocco. The area of Agadir is facing scarcity of water resources: moderate rainfall, empty reservoirs, salinization, absence of water recirculation, and high use of water in current horticulture production. They are also facing diseases and pests in crops, a high amount of sodium and chlorine and a lack of knowledge on the production of tomatoes.

Agadir is looking for strategies, practices and production systems that offer advantages in terms of horticulture production, but are also resilient and reduce the impact of climate change. The Dutch companies are looking how they can support this area with their knowledge and technology and build an innovation network.

About the Case Holder 

The Impact Cluster Agadir is managed by HortiTech. HortiTech’s director Peet van Adrichem has been the founder father of the DemoNursery Westland and the World Horti Center (WHC), both in Naaldwijk, Based on its Dutch knowledge, expertise and heritage, HortiTech is active on a global level in organizing centers in which horticulture knowledge, innovation is directly transferred to (practical) growers.

In case of Agadir a vast group of Dutch companies – organized in the Learning Community of World Horti Center – comes along in creating together with HortiTech, the Impact Cluster. This cluster will be (aim) financially supported by the Dutch Embassy in Rabat, through a so called Impact Cluster funding by the Dutch Agency for Entrepreneurship (RVO).

HortiTechWorld Horti Center




Information about the thesis assignments

The partner companies of the Impact Cluster formulated 10 thesis assignments. Together with the LDE-students, and partner companies, we would like to formulate final thesis assignments:

  1. Which parties and competences should be present in a knowledge centre in Agadir? 
  2. How can efficient water systems be developed? Which parties should be involved?
  3. How should the adoption of data driven growing be facilitated in Morocco?
  4. Which biological pest control technologies should be developed for the Agadir region? Who should develop these?
  5. How can water distribution systems be developed for use in greenhouses (plastic, glass) in Agadir? Who should develop these?
  6. What are proper organizational structures for collaborative Dutch-Moroccan companies?
  7. How can we manage drought resistance factors with different crops?
  8. How can we optimal use Climate Screens in Agadir reason?
  9. How to create a sustainable lifecycle of substrate in Agadir?
  10. How to design and implement Mid Tech Greenhouses in the region of Agadir?
  11. Open assignment: share your thesis idea with us! 

Lab Program + Excursion 

The lab program of the Sustainable Horticulture Agadir Lab consists of 11 sessions and an extra 9-days excursion to Morocco. The excursion to Morocco is planned between May 6 and May 14, 2023. During this excursion you will visit Agadir and Rabat. The aim of the excursion is to get a good overview of the situation in Morocco and the sustainability and horticulture challenges. You will experience the real-life setting, possibilities and limitations. You will meet partner organisations and students in Morocco, get inspired and get a chance to collect data for your thesis.

Costs excursion:

  • We ask you to pay your own flight tickets to Morocco (on May 6 we will start in Agadir and on May 14 we will be in Rabat).
  • We ask you to pay a contribution of €150,- for the excursion. All other costs of travel, accommodation and meals in Morocco are covered.

You can check for yourself if you qualify for a subsidy to cover (a part of) the costs, for instance via Fonds op naam, Students4Sustainability, Universiteitsfonds TU Delft or via another organisation.

Health and safety:

When you join the excursion, you must register your stay abroad at your own university. Further (depending on your university) you have to attend a Health & Safety lecture.   

Lab Program

The Sustainable Horticulture Agadir lab program runs from the beginning of February until the beginning of July 2023. It is a biweekly program were students from a lab come together to follow in-depth lectures and workshops related to their sustainability challenge. During these sessions, the students discover and discuss the interdisciplinary aspect of this challenge. At the end of the program, an interdisciplinary result to the sustainability challenge will be formulated by the students during a “pressure cooker”. Click here to see the lab program (dates) and click here for an explanation of the sessions and the conditions for enrolment. 

ProgramLab Program