I keep reading everywhere how the economy is thriving. Less unemployment, more traffic jams. We’ve noticed it too; the demand for airfreight has increased and the dollar became stronger, making things more expensive for us. But there were more challenges: we were also facing problems with airports last year. Schiphol was full, Maastricht couldn’t handle anything extra and Liège was simply a mess. These things don’t help, of course. We’ve also heard it’s difficult to find lorries and drivers nowadays.
The challenges of a thriving economy. Perhaps it isn’t so bad that people have started to talk about an upcoming recession again. I’m not so sure about this myself, but if it means we’ll use our resources a bit more sparingly, I think it’s a good thing.
Sustainability is the magic word and something that’s high on the agenda in Kenya too. We’ve been using fewer chemical means and more natural methods, and we recycle wherever we can. There’s been talk about reusable boxes, but we’ll need the port of Mombasa’s cooperation for this. Even sea cargo could be an option for our flowers, as long as trains and boats will be able to manage our tight schedules.
I know that the congested roads are causing problems for transport between the different auction locations in Holland, too. High time to do something about it. Going on and on about ‘nationwide auctioning’ and ‘af-tuin veilen’ won’t get you anywhere, though. Take some time to try and work out what it would look like in practice. It’s an unsolvable task.
During my TFA days, of course, I also tried everything to be smarter than the cooperatives. And there’s only one real solution: one location for each product or product group. For example: Aalsmeer for cut flowers, Naaldwijk for potted plants and Rijnsburg for bedding plants. It will provide clarity for all buyers and growers: supply and demand will be concentrated in one place, leading to cost savings for both parties.
As auction growers, we’ll become more interesting for buyers without any extra costs on their side. Believe me, the more you think about this, the more logical it seems. Take for example the savings that would be made on transport. And think of the buyers. They would no longer have to check and buy from three different auctions.
We’ll see. I’m not on the Members’ Council, so I completely depend on my colleagues. Having said that, the Members’ Council is a super team, so I believe in them. By the way, I also believe that the United Kingdom is going to remain in the European Union, that Trump won’t last another year and that my wife is finally going to exchange her British nationality for the Dutch one.
Simon van der Burg,
Rose grower, Timaflor, Kenya