12 million euro mite breeding facility opens in Flanders

Flemish company BioFirst Group has opened a new mite breeding facility in Westerlo to meet the growing international demand for predatory mites. The company, which specialises in biological control of diseases, reports that the investment in the new production hall amounts to 12 million euros. The new space was inaugurated in the presence of the Flemish and federal ministers of agriculture, Jo Brouns (CD&V) and David Clarinval (MR).

"Predatory mites are important for various crop protection products," says Jan Schoovaerts of BioFirst Group. Farmers use the mites to control pests (because they consume larvae). The tiny natural enemies minimise the use of chemicals." Biobest has proven that the combination of prevention and biological crop protection provides most crops with adequate protection against pests and diseases, so chemical pesticides should only be used as a last resort.

The company urges European policymakers to speed up the registration process for biopesticides. In Europe, natural pesticides must undergo the same lengthy licensing process as chemical products, which can take up to ten years. The new European pesticides directive agreed to accelerate this procedure, but it has disappeared again under pressure from farmers' protests.

The new cultivation facility is about 4,000 square metres in size, allowing the company to scale up mite production quickly. It will employ around 50 people. Biobest is now active in 70 countries and has 22 foreign branches.

#FlandersNewsService | Photo ©JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

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