2 The current argicultural sector, the relevant trends and current initiatives

2.1 The current sociotechnical sub-system and its functions

The sub system agriculture has a productive aspect, i.e. farms and a consumptive aspect, such as restaurants, hotels and deli shops.

The producing category consists of dairy farms, sheep farms, agriculture, horticulture and flower bulb production. The production is for the islands own use, but also for export, since products from Texel have a good name.

 There are 321 establishments in the department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. This sector accounts for 10,4 % of the jobs on Texel. About 65% of the area is used for agriculture. [1]

 The farms are united with a promotional organization PR Landbouw Texel. This organization has to improve the image of the sector. [2]


2.1.1 The technologies that are prevailing

It is hard to say which technologies are prevailing, since there is a wide variety of farms. We do not know what specific crops they grow or what fertilization techniques the farmers use. However we can indicate what general types of agriculture are present on the island.

 There are a lot of sheep kept on the island. They mostly graze on poor soils in the dunes and dykes. There are some sheep diary farms, which make cheese. There are not so many diary farms anymore on Texel, because the competition with farms on the mainland is making it less profitable. Many diary farms switch to arable farming or horticulture for economical reasons. As a result there are less meadows on the island than before. Many arable farmers try to maintain biodiversity at the borders of the acre. And the municipality decreed that there has to be a minimum of 4000 hectares of grassland to preserve the habitat for birds and other animals. [3]

 In general we can state that the agricultural sector is using the same techniques as on the mainland. They work with large monocultures and pesticides. Large machines are used to work the land. The big difference compared to the mainland is the lack of irrigation. The municipality does not allow irrigation, because it would affect the ecosystem too much.This because the lack of fresh water sources on the island. The only way to obtain this fresh water is by transporting it from the mainland. [3]

2.1.2 The actors and their problem definitions, needs and interests

PR landbouw/Farmer:

The organization PR Landbouw improves the image and visibility of agriculture. It focuses its campaigns on citizens, member farmers and policy makers. Doing agriculture on an island is rather difficult, due to higher costs for supplies. Watering the land is forbidden even during dry summer days. Many farmers have multiple side jobs to earn some extra money. They start enterprises like making the farm into a camping site or producing shower gel based on sheep wool. [2] The farmer would likely be interested in more profitable crops so that there is less necessity to get side jobs.


Tourism is the big motor of Texel nowadays. Their needs and interests are of great importance of the future of Texel. The tourists come for the special character of the island. Their main motives for a visit are the beach, fresh air, ‘island feeling’, the beauty of the island, nature, the ability to make long walks and cycle tours. [4] Besides going out for diner is one of the main activity. From this we can conclude that the character and nature of Texel are the main attractors, or interests, together with the Texel gastronomy.

Local people

The local people are an important group. Unfortunately we couldn’t find information about their needs and interests. We could, however, make an educated guess. We think that the locals would want a prosperous future. This future is highly dependent on tourism. The needs of the tourists are therefore also important factors for the locals. But we also think that the special island feeling and the beautiful landscape are important reasons for people themselves to live there. These reasons are in line with the interests of the tourist. The contradiction is probably in the food consumption. The tourist comes for the local cuisine, but the local would probably rather eat more exotic products too, just like the ordinary Dutch inhabitant. Tourists are also willing to pay more for food than the locals.


The municipality thinks that tourism is important and they recognize that the landscape has a very important role to play in this. The government wants to keep the rustic character of the rural landscape. They try to prevent following trends. Although they try to keep the character as much as it is, they cannot neglect European regulation. [5]

The Texel municipality made a policy document with the active participation of the local inhabitants. They want to profile themselves as a ‘nature’ island with energy independence through sustainable measures. The tourist industry is considered very important and also the fishing industry is still an important part of the island community. The government wants to transform the island to a knowledge island to keep the higher educated people on the island. The municipality recognizes that the agricultural sector is not so profitable. They want to encourage farmers to broaden their professional scope to other aspects of their farm, such as tourism and nature preservation.  [5]


Restaurants do very well understand that the local character of the island is bringing them so much business. They are thus exploiting the demand for locally produced products. Jef Schuur a Michelin star chef has set up a restaurant in Den Hoorn which serves the Texel sheep. They however fear for some competition when farmers start diverging to side-businesses related to their farms in respect to gastronomy. The farmers and restaurants are both interested in exploiting the Texel identity and we think that here lies a big opportunity for intense cooperation.


2.1.3 How the technologies are embedded in culture and behaviour

Agriculture is very important for the current appearance of the Texel landscape. Agriculture has shaped the island. The people have made dykes around the island to protect the land. There are nowadays no large floodplains left, because the dykes make such a strong separation. The dykes are now used for keeping sheep, but it made the people loose their connection with the sea. [6] The farmers do their business just like farmers on the mainland. The scale of production is about the same size. The prohibition of land irrigation is however a major distinction. Watering affects the ecosystem too much and is therefore not allowed. This can cause serious problems for the food production during dry summers with lower yields as a consequence. Farmers have to find side-jobs to be able to sustain themselves. This is also a result of the higher transport costs due to the fact that the farmers live on an island. This is a major distinction from farmers from the mainland. The Texel farmer is much more focused on tourism. He is therefore more respectful to nature. It is common for farmers to maintain the habitats for animals at acre borders. This is also for their own benefit, because this makes the landscape more appealing to the tourist.

Agriculture is an important component, which is exploited through tourism. The island recognizes that the farmland is an important component of the Texel identity. But the farmers do not really play a major role in marketing this, except for rare examples as the ‘Proeftuin’.

The locals are becoming more aware of the local cuisine. This cuisine is more and more marketed through restaurants. Products from the sea are, together with sheep meat and cheese and Texel beer the most defining products. The products of the Saline Agriculture initiative are also becoming more important. The food is used in restaurants. A new culture around the food is evolving, now the farmers have to diverge to side businesses. Their farms become touristic attractions that for example show the making of the products or otherwise exploit the character of the farm.

2.1.4 How the elements, like technologies, industries, organizations, people in the system are interrelated?

Texel has a very strong community. There is a rather horizontal democratic organisation on the island. For example the governmental policy vision “Texel op Koers” illustrates the high amount of participation in the society.  The municipality is therefore very closely related to the individual needs of the citizens. This high amount of participation is possible, because the community is relatively small.

The farmers are important for the appearance of the landscape and therefore indirectly responsible for the attraction of tourists. They work on the land with big machines. The Texel landscape consists of large patches of agricultural land, due to the ‘upscaling’ (Ruilverkaveling) of farms. The farmers can decide themselves what to grow on their land. There is, however, a strict regulation that prohibits irrigation. Dry summers are therefore difficult and financially risky. Farmers need side jobs for sufficient income. They start to compete with other touristic branches, such as recreation and gastronomy.

Restaurants are dependent on the recreation industry and the rustic landscape of the island, because restaurants are not the primary attraction for tourism.  Here lies an opportunity. Restaurants, recreation businesses and farmers could cooperate more closely to strengthen their economic position on the island. The parties can become more aware of each other’s needs and help each other instead of competing. They have to work together to optimize the ‘branding’ of the island.

2.1.5 Rules and regulations

The Texel community is a relatively small community and has therefore a very participatory government. The citizens are really involved in policy making. The island is however not entirely independent. The farmers still have to work according to European and Dutch laws about agriculture. The most remarkable regulation on the scale of Texel is the prohibition of irrigation. The island has too small reserves for irrigation. [5]

Another regulation is the stimulation of preservation of biodiversity in acre borders. Both municipality and farmers think this is important.  Sometimes municipality and farmers have contradictory needs. Some farmers want a lower ground water level, while the municipality (Staatsbosbeheer) wants a higher water level in the dunes nearby. The government wants to solve these kinds of problems actively with participation of the involved parties. The general ‘island’ feeling is possibly the leading principle behind this self-organizing approach.  [5]

2.2 Major unsustainable mechanisms in the current system

Many farmers have to switch from diary and cattle breeding to arable farming, because the competition on the mainland is to strong. However, arable farming isn’t really cost-effective either and the land is not always suitable for it. The irrigation prohibition is making it even more difficult. The biggest problem is the higher costs for transport from the island to the mainland. This is disadvantageous for the competition; especially with the rather cheap bulk goods the farmers produce now. The switch to arable farming has a negative effect on the ecosystem, because the area of meadows is getting less and less. Birds that live on the meadows have less space to breed, which is affecting the population.


Another unsustainability is the production of relatively cheap bulk goods that are exported and sold for a low price. Products are then imported for a high price, due to the transport costs. It would probably be more efficient to look for what is necessary to produce for the island inhabitants and what can be turned into a higher priced Texel delicacy that can be sold to tourists. This to minimize transport costs. Probably also the export of Texel delicacies is more profitable than the export of bulk goods.[2]


2.3 Major trends, developments and initiatives in the current system

The discussion between the farmers and municipality is an important development. They discuss with each other to come to a regulation that suits most parties well. This strengthens the dialogue within this small community. We think that this approach also helps people to come to better-integrated solutions that strengthen the economy and nature of Texel.

Restaurants and farmers could work better together. The ‘Uit Je eigen Stad’ initiative from Rotterdam consist out both a farm and a restaurant. This formula could contribute to a more integrated approach to tourism on Texel. Farmers and restaurant owners become more aware of each other’s products and needs by such an initiative. It could help to diversify agriculture and it could help to close cycles: waste of the restaurant as nutrition for the farm that produces products for the restaurant. The tourist can also get a fuller experience of the food and landscape, because it can be shown in one concept. Besides the tourists also locals can provited from such initiatives. Products are more fresh and people become more aware of what they eat. Especially for childrens this is important.  [7]

Saline agriculture is another trend that could bring Texel’s agriculture a bit further. The experimentation with crops that are more suitable for the island could lead to a different kind of agriculture. It could be beneficial for natural preservation and creating new biotopes.  Saline crops can help to diversify agriculture to more profitable crops that can be sold as Texel delicacies on the mainland. Saline agriculture could also help to solve the irrigation and fresh-water problem. Saline agriculture provides a new perspective on making the coastline more profitable besides sheep keeping. [8][9] 



[1] texel in figures

[2] PR Landbouw

[3] Landbouw en visserij op Texel

[4] VVV Texel, (2014). Factsheet Toerisme op Texel 2014. https://www.texel.net/getfile;1043  

[5] http://www.texel.nl/de-gemeente/beleidsstukken_42781/item/structuurvisie-texel-op-koers_35707.html

[6] Interview Marc van Rijsselberghe

[7] Interview Huib van de Leede

[8] Saline argiculture by marc

[9] Saline argiculture Texel: an example transition project



Borris , Syed Aaquib Hazari , Iris

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