How is Italy’s ornamental horticulture coping with Coronavirus uncertainty?

sunset and Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Author: Ron van der Ploeg

ROME, Italy: Since Italy’s coronavirus lockdown of much of Northern Italy, imposed by the government on Sunday afternoon March 8, uncertainty rules the country and its horticultural business is no difference.

Rumours spread fast these days in Italy. This morning, for example, FCI was told that Italian chrysanthemum farms are left no other solution than to destroy their crops planted in week 50, 51, 52 and the first week of January due to a significant drop in demand and the impossibility to deliver their flowers to customers in the assigned quarantine zone.

Happy to hear from Papaianni, located in Bisignano in the southern Calabria region, that so far the situation at their flower farm, one of the biggest in Italy, is under control. People are calm, and flowers arrive their point  of destination in Northern Italy. Trucks can go in and out the red zone but lorry drivers check at forehand whether loading and unloading sites are accessible and are asked to wear a mask and keep a distance of 2 metres between themselves and other people.

While flowers continue to arrive on their point of destination, Italy has banned all public gatherings including weddings, funerals, concerts and events and that’s bad news for floral purchases. This is best mirrored by flower sales for Italy’s International Women’s Day, in Italy known as Festa delle Donna, celebrated by the giving of mimosa blossom. Industry professionals point to a drop of at least 45 per cent in Mimosa sales as the coronavirus outbreak dampened domestic demand.

Meanwhile, Luigi de Maio, Italy’s Foreign Minister, has announced government plans to inject €716 million into the economy to help sectors promote Italian made products and develop its export markets.

ANVE, Italy’s National Association of Nursery Stock Exporters is in contact with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to inform its members how to apply for the different types of funding and financial compensation for losses incurred due to the coronavirus.

The proposed aid package includes not only tax cuts, tax credits but also compensation for companies which were unable to participate in trade shows due to the coronavirus.

The news comes one week after the cancellation of Milan’s trade fair for ornamental horticulture MyPlant&Garden which is now happening later in the year from 21-23 September.

The Italian Trade Agency (ITA) is willing to cover 100 per cent of the incurred costs. Additionally, the agency offers companies the possibility to participate in ITA initiatives free of charge. Until March 2021, companies with up to 100 employees can also make free use of ITA’s services offered by their offices around the world.

For the occasion, ANVE’s Secretary Eduardo Sciutti told FCI that customers from abroad ask ANVE members to provide coronavirus-free plants. It needs no further explanation that such requests are ‘completely assurdo’. Naturally, growers are unable to produce such documents.

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