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How the Netherlands learned to feed the world

Despite its small size and dense population the Netherlands makes far more food than it can eat. This is how a nation that was once starving under the Nazis has now become a world leader in farming techniques and agriculture technologies.

The Netherlands is a small country. It’s so small, you could fit it into the U.S. two hundred and seventy times. But it’s big when it comes to making food. Remarkably it has the second largest agricultural exports in the world, mainly through being able to produce vast amounts of food on tiny plots.

The Netherlands isn’t exactly designed for mass farming. Because of limited space farmers have learned to eke out as much as possible from the land. With a third of the country under sea level, the Dutch mastered how to make land using levees and built windmills to drain marshland to create fertile soil. An area just outside of Amsterdam – the Flevopolder – is the largest artificial island in the world and didn’t exist half a century ago.

Nowadays over half the ground in the Netherlands is used for agriculture. If you were to put all of the Dutch greenhouses together today they’d cover an area the size of Manhattan.

Watch a video by Tom Gibson Bloomberg TV here

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