European Seed have published an interview with Niels Louwaars, Managing Director at the Dutch Seed Association Plantum NL.
European Seed (ES): Niels, how are you and your team doing under COVID-19?
Niels Louwaars (NL): We have adapted to working from home; no health problems in the team – I hope it will stay that way. However, I have to say, just like the disease itself, the situation can change every day.
ES: And how is the sector doing?
NL: The sector in The Netherlands is very diverse. The ornamentals sector is hard hit. The famous flower auction is currently destroying some 80% of its produce because it is not sold and retail chains like supermarkets and garden centres all over Europe cancel contracts for bedding plants. This has an immediate effect on the planting materials sector.
ES: Where are your biggest challenges?
NL: Challenges in vegetable and field crop seeds relate more to transport and workers. Road transport faces challenges at borders and is related to shortages of drivers and provisions for such drivers when highway restaurants are closed. Hundreds of trucks are on the road until mid-April for seed potato alone; similarly, young vegetable plants are on their way to customers all over Europe. We are very happy that the EU included all agricultural supplies in the Green Lane procedure on the 23rd, including also cross border transport of essential workers. That last aspect is very important as well, since seasonal workers are important in both horticultural production and also the seeds and planting materials sector.