Producers forced to “throw away” millions of flowers and plants

in News · 28-03-2020 12:00:00 · 1 Comments

Portuguese producers of flowers and plants warned on 27 March that they are "throwing away tons of plants" due to the "almost total stagnation of sales" caused by the pandemic of the covid-19.

"We estimate that 2.5 million plants and flowers are going to waste because sales have been stagnant. Orders have been cancelled for more than 15 days, and the tons we had produced are to be thrown away," lamented Victor Araújo, president of the Portuguese Association of Natural Plant and Flower Producers (APPPFN), to Lusa.

In addition to the difficulties to pay for the investments made, the leader stated that there is already a lot of uncertainty in the companies' ability to pay their workers, in a sector that directly employs more than 5,000 people, from the north to the south of the country.

"We are the agricultural sector that employs the most labour throughout the year, because they are very manual processes. We have already had to send a lot of people home because there is no work. We don't want to leave anyone, but I don't know how at the end of the month we will make expenses payable, because we are almost out of revenue", said the leader of APPPFN.

Victor Araújo says that the activity of companies in the sector represents a business value of around 700 million Euros, and with a strong vocation for exports, which has also stagnated.

"In the case of flowers, 30 percent is for export, but in vazo plants it is 70 percent, and for markets such as Italy, Spain, France and the United Kingdom, which are even worse off than Portugal," he added.

The crisis took place precisely in the spring, when, naturally, the production of flowers and plants reaches its peak, and needs treatments to develop.

"It is almost a 100 percent drop, because people stopped buying flowers. The problem is that we must continue to do phytosanitary treatments to the installed crops, but not sure if we will be able to sell," explained Rui Algarvio, owner of a farm in the centre area, with about 20 hectares.

The entrepreneur employs about 50 people, but in the absence of revenue, he does not know how it will be possible to maintain jobs.

"If it was a 20 or 30 percent drop we could still handle it, but this is an uncertainty. The costs are daily, because we are still thinking about a resumption in time to sell, in the summer, some things we have been cultivating", shared Rui Algarvio.

Further north, in Póvoa de Varzim, in the district of Porto, the situation is similar, but it is aggravated by the fact that these are small family businesses, which also without sales are already thinking about adapting their activity.

"We are four in the family living on this business, and we are already throwing a lot of flowers in the trash because nobody buys them. Continuing this way, we will have to turn to horticulture, because, at least, the vegetables people have to consume", shared Esperança Moreira with Lusa.

The producer, who also sells at her own store, points out that "with cemeteries closed and Easter practically without trade, the year will be almost lost", counting "with a small resumption only in November, at the time of All Saints Day".


Tell us where it is we will be happy to take them for good homes

By Tamir from Alentejo on 28-03-2020 06:18
Interactive Topics, send us your comments/opinion on this article.

Please note that The Portugal News may use selected comments in the printed edition of the newspaper.