In less than a week, the floriculture industry has fallen into an unprecedented crisis. The loss of the important Italian market was the first stroke. But president Trump’s decision to close the borders for Europeans acted as a catalyst. The demand at our marketplace collapsed instantly.
Friday the 13th did really become a day of bad luck for the sector; thousands of trolleys with plants and flowers were left unsold. We had to work all weekend to destroy the unsold produce. It was so painful to watch. And the whole thing was repeated on Monday.
Last weekend, we pulled out all the stops and sounded the alarm bells. The floriculture industry is hit hard. It was good to hear prime minister Mark Rutte mention us in his television address. He pointed out that we must try and overcome this crisis together. As far as I’m concerned, together means the floriculture industry and the government together, with support from banks in the form of emergency loans. But first and foremost, financial support from the government in the form of an emergency fund. That’s something we need clarity on as soon as possible.
It isn’t just the financially weak companies that are going belly up; healthy companies are going down too. Not just growers, but trading companies too. Both are indispensable links in the floriculture chain. Without exporters, all those beautiful plants and flowers can’t reach consumers abroad. The unique infrastructure that we built up over one hundred years, is in danger of irreversible damage. An export value of more than 6 billion euros is at stake. As well as the jobs of around 150,000 people.
We’ve received great support from the mayors of the municipalities where Royal FloraHolland is based. The floriculture sector is deeply rooted in the towns of Aalsmeer, Westland and Rijnsburg/Katwijk. Every single inhabitant knows at least one grower, exporter or RFH employee.
In the coming period, it’s crucial for us as the floriculture sector to make our voices heard via the newspapers, on radio and TV and via social media. Everyone in the sector can contribute to this. I strongly believe in the resilience and positive energy of our sector. But the challenge we are facing now, goes beyond the strength of our amazing industry. Government, don’t abandon us!
Steven van Schilfgaarde,
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