Floribusiness Blogs ‘The Brazilian bureaucracy is a disaster’

‘The Brazilian bureaucracy is a disaster’


The sun is shining in Brazil, the people are very welcoming, the floricultural industry is thriving and the food is delicious. There’s only one, small negative point: the country is very corrupt and bureaucratic, from what I hear. That bureaucracy has quite an impact on the floricultural industry. Importing dracaena or an auction clock, is close to impossible.

Workers are obliged to wear protective clothing, shoes and gloves and use sunscreen lotion.  All of these details need to be registered as well. And you’d better not forget to do so, or you won’t have any proof in case an employee takes you to court because of something that happened to them in your greenhouse. One of the many examples of bureaucracy in Brazil.

Ronaldo Micotti da Gloria

I heard it this afternoon from Kees Schoenmaker of Terra Viva. He said that the Brazilian bureaucracy is a disaster. It makes Brazil a very difficult place to run a business, explained Schoenmaker. “Starting a business is almost impossible. The only advantage is that the same rules apply to everyone”, he added.

Despite this bureaucracy, the Schoenmaker family managed to build an impressive company, I learned from director Ronaldo Micotti da Gloria. It consists of 70 hectares of young plants, cut flowers and pot plants. Over the course of ten years, phalaenopsis has become their most important product. But the company also grows a whole range of other products, including potatoes, oranges, sweetcorn and amaryllis bulbs. The total production of the Schoenmaker family amounts to 8,500 hectares.

Back to bureaucracy. I also spoke with Roger Scholten. He grows denphal and dracaena. He started with 3,000 m2 ten years ago, which has expanded to 1 ha by now. He also mentioned the Brazilian bureaucracy. He’s allowed to import his denphal plants from Thailand. But he can’t import any draceana from abroad. He sometimes sees the most beautiful varieties in other countries, but has no access to them. Scholten has to make do with cuttings of whatever varieties he can find in Brazil.

Roger Scholten.

The best example of bureaucracy must be the one that André van Kruijssen gave me, though. The director of Veiling Holambra told me that many years ago, they wanted to import the auction clock of VON in Bemmel. When the Brazilian custom officers saw the word for ‘watch’ on the import documents, they totally lost it.

No matter how closely they inspected the device, they found only one clock hand. Not two. Furthermore, the clock wasn’t divided into twelve, but in a hundred hours. This isn’t a watch, concluded the custom officers. The auction clock was returned to the Netherlands. Back in Rotterdam, they were thinking long and hard what they should write on the forms instead. They eventually decided on the Dutch word ‘klok’.

When the clock reached the Brazilian custom officers for the second time, they weren’t quite sure what to do. The word ‘klok’ was completely new to them. Oh well, I guess this must be a ‘klok’, is what they seemed to think, and they let the colossus through.

The clock from Bemmel is now hanging in the hall of Veiling Holambra as a relic.

Because of this whole story, the word ‘klok’ was added to the Brazilian vocabulary. An auction clock is called ‘klok’ over here. Or more precisely: ‘klokkie’. Just like they say in the Dutch Westland region, because the Portuguese always place an ‘ee’ sound after words they can’t pronounce.

I’m glad my name’s Arie. At least they won’t have to change that into something strange.

Arie-Frans Middelburg












Arie-Frans Middelburg
Arie-Frans Middelburg werkt sinds 2002 als redacteur bij het Vakblad voor de Bloemisterij. Hij schrijft onder meer over veilingen, logistiek en ontwikkelingen in de sierteelt in het buitenland.

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