I am Evi Van Camp from the eTOMATO partner GEBROEDERS VERCAMMEN. As a farmer, I visited a lot of places throughout the years.
All of them shared one major concern: how does agriculture contribute to climate change? Opinions were often divided, so time for some fact-checking.
Media has recently stated that the CO2 emission of the steel & mining company Arcelor Mittal is higher than the entire emissions from the agricultural sector. The ongoing discussion of mitigating livestock greenhouse gas emissions is another hot debated issue. Did you know for example that in the sixties there were approximately 1.000.000 milk cows and in 2018 only 523.107 throughout Belgium? Are you aware that in the sixties 1.000.000 cars were on the road and that in 2018 a staggering 7.533.000 cars daily contributed to a worsening climate? The agricultural business carries a big responsibility but has a relatively small impact on climate change as compared to other industries. We all need to make an effort in order to make changes for the better!
The public is largely unaware of the effort and skill it takes to produce the healthy fruit and vegetables we all crave and like. They have a right to be informed about the produce and methods of farming in order to form make an educated choice which product to buy.
Although ‘Gebroeders Vercammen’ is not a traditional farm, we strongly believe that in opening up to the public, people will come to appreciate and understand the many difficulties farmers face.
We are proud of our products and enjoy the interaction with our clients. Their feedback is very much valued to improve and enhance our services.
We sell our produce on four weekly markets and we have our own farm shop that’s open on Wednesday and Friday afternoon, as well as Saturday morning. At the end of 2017 we added a multifunctional room, used for workshop and guided tours for visiting schools and companies.
Furthermore, we deliver our products to approximately 40 restaurants in the province of Antwerp. We completely rely on word-of-mouth advertising to increase our network of customers. We also deliver food parcels through the network of ‘Boeren & Buren’ to three farms close to the city of Antwerp.
The advantage of selling directly to our customers, instead of using platforms provided by third parties, is the better price we receive for our products. We never undersell our goods, and our customers don’t expect us to.
Short food supply chains will definitely grow in popularity but are certainly not the only solution to the problems we face as a sector. It may however prove to be a first step to a new way of doing business as an agricultural company. If you’re planning on taking the first step, it is important you know your company’s statistics and accurately define your goals. It takes a lot of effort each and every day but together with the customer we can build a better and healthier future!