A number of ficus and cycas growers in the Netherlands have taken the opportunity to respond to a potential EU-import ban of high-risk plants from countries outside the EU (third countries). The EU consultation will be online until the 15th of August.
Mid July, the European Commission (EC) published an initial list of 39 high-risk plants. According to the EC, woody plants imported from third countries carry a high risk. Such as the introduction of diseases or pests that are harmful for the EU. The EU has proposed to its member states that imports from these countries should be banned. It concerns propagation materials for various tree nurseries and floricultural crops, including ficus.
Stakeholders can respond online to the proposed ban via a so-called EU consultation. A number of growers have already done this, including Fachjan, Mondo Verde, Bunnik Plants and Vinkaplant. They feel that the measure is unnecessary and point out that an import ban would lead to big losses for their companies.
Thomas Bunnik of Bunnik Plants understands that the EU needs to protect important plant species against quarantine organisms, but not at unnecessary costs. A ban on ficus would be an unnecessary cost in his opinion. “At first glance, the ficus might seem a high-risk plant, considering its genetic predisposition for hosting quarantine organisms. However, the way in which it’s cultivated, in closed-off nurseries, where infection isn’t possible, isn’t a risk for pests”, says Bunnik.
Kees Janssen of Fachjan Project totally agree with him. He feels that the measure seems too much like a protectionist measure. “We’ve been importing ficus plants from all over the world for 20 years. We do everything we can to ensure the plants are as clean as possible when they arrive. With success.”