17 March 2020
Translation and adaption by Ron van der Ploeg
“Italy’s ornamental horticulture sector is facing uncertain times again. This time more than 100 million people across Europe are on lockdown due to the coronavirus. As if we, flower and plant growers, hadn’t suffered enough from the devastating bacteria Xylella fastidiosa.
Here in Italy, we’ve seen our fair share of disasters wreaking havoc in the ornamentals sector. Sometimes they give you the impression to be participating in a fencing match with each emergency being a much stronger opponent. First came the financial crisis that swept the world in 2008, followed by Xylella that triggered a phytosanitary crisis. And right now we are facing a challenge which is global and massive, a challenge which will put us severely to the test both as humans and as entrepreneurs – the coronavirus, a scourge, a pandemic that will mark our lives for a long time.
Under the given circumstances, we must remain calm and trust our Government, our nation and industry bodies such as ANVE. Here, we are keeping the best interests of our members in mind, being in close contact with our growers, local and national authorities and the Government to keep you updated about the situation and limit damages as far as we can.
As such, we have teamed up with many other industry associations in Italy, which, like us, genuinely care about their members. Together we have written a letter to Italy’s minister of agriculture Teresa Bellanova and her Undersecretary Giuseppe L’Abbate, to whom I extend a heartfelt thanks for their serious attention and support they are giving to our sector. ANVE and peer associations asked for measures to support the floriculture industry. At the same time, we are looking for possible ways of compensating producers for damage caused by ‘natural disasters’. We are also in close contact with the regional administrations to understand even at a local level what resources need to be put in place.
For ANVE, it needs no explanation that the nature of our member’s product is perishable and that the absence of markets and demand for it in the right sales season signifies a total loss of investments.
The progressive paralysis of the Italian economic system, coinciding with the peak spring sales season, is bringing the entire floriculture production system to its knees. Members see no other solution than to leave their flowers and plants in the soil, obviously standing there prone to rapid deterioration, causing an unprecedented loss of turnover.
If we add to this catastrophe, the blockages of goods on the borders with other European countries and the spread of the virus in these countries too, we can easily understand the complexity of the problem and the fact that it will last much longer.
It is safe to say that we have probably lost the entire season’s sales, we have gone from 100 per cent to nought in a week, and this will undoubtedly have severe consequences for the international floriculture sector.”
However, I firmly believe that all of us must comply with the Government’s provisions without excessive interpretation and allow the activities permitted by the DPCM to continue their production and marketing work. I think that the regulations are clear and that, with all the necessary restrictions, it is still possible to produce and sell plants in compliance with the mandatory safety standards.
All our companies have adopted the measures requested by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and we are witnessing a great demonstration of professional maturity. We are an example to the rest of the world, and I am convinced that we will come out of this crisis more united than ever.”
ANVE is Italy’s national association of nursery stock exporters .