What started as a major problem for one country has escalated to become a global crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every person on the planet. First and foremost, our thoughts are with those affected by the virus, those caring for sick people and those that have lost loved ones. As an industry, we must abide by all the expert guidance relating to measures to control the disease and of course, put people first.
However, this crisis will have a much broader impact than on the health of those affected. There is now the pressing prospect of global recession and many companies in our sector will not be able to survive the collapse in sales without external support.
Now the rest of the world is going through what our industry colleagues in China already experienced earlier this year.
So many flowers grown for the Chinese New Year celebrations became waste. It has been heart-breaking here in the Netherlands this week to see up to half of the stock at the flower auction just having to be thrown away, unsold.
Lockdown and social distancing policies in many countries have effectively brought trade to a stand-still during one of our busiest periods.
The closure of garden centres in many countries and the guidance not to go out will be a severe deterrent to garden plant sales too as we approach the typically busy Spring period in the northern hemisphere.
All countries rarely face the same crisis at the same time. AIPH exists to be ‘the world’s champion for the power of plants’. Never have we all needed such support from one another. None of you are alone in what you are facing, and I want to send you all my deepest sympathy.
But also, I am optimistic. Just as leaves bud on the trees after the harshest winters so this industry is resilient and robust, and I believe that after this pain we can rebuild and be even stronger. Despite this crisis, the products we produce can play such an important role in bringing love, joy, recovery and hope. So many people are housebound, but they can bring joy and life to their homes and gardens with flowers and plants, at least where they can actually get them.
AIPH and its magazine, FloraCulture International is committed to helping you however we can. To start with, we are:
• Preparing a fact sheet detailing the scientifically proven benefits of receiving flowers and having plants and flowers in your home.
• Preparing a fact sheet detailing the scientifically proven benefits of gardening as so many people are confined to their plots of ground.
• We are sending press releases to the global consumer media promoting these benefits to stimulate sales during these difficult times.
• We are collating the experiences of members and the industry in different countries to keep you informed on developments and positive initiatives.
The fact sheets are provided as tools for you to use as you support the industry in your own country and lobby your governments to support the sector through the crisis.
I believe our industry will survive this storm and come out the other side and to be recognised for more than what we are now. But this depends on the determination and resilience of all of us and especially those growers putting all their energies and resources into producing their beautiful crops.
I am proud to be a part of the ornamental horticulture industry, and I wish you well as you do what you can to support the sector and prepare for the future.