Shanghai’s current Covid-19 is leaving citizens struggling to access food, basic necessities, medicine and healthcare facilities. The city entered into a strict lockdown on March 28, forcing the metropolis' 26 million residents to isolate at home, with grocery shops closed and delivery companies challenged to meet overwhelming demand.
FoodVentures operates a greenhouse facility right in the center of the city. The project is part of Hengda Modern Agriculture Science Park on Chongming Island, covering an area of 17.5 hectares and currently producing fresh cherry tomatoes.
“Part of our team has volunteered to work inside the greenhouse. This team, including our head grower, currently lives, works and sleeps in the company. Even though we are facing problems with supplies, including boxes, packaging materials, and fertilizers, we are able to continue our productions,” according to Dirk Aleven from FoodVentures.
FoodVentures had to find new ways, quickly, to take its tomatoes to the market. Supermarkets and grocery shops closed at the start of the lockdown, and most internet delivery platforms are failing to keep up with the huge demand. Residents have resorted to group buying of groceries because they are not allowed to leave their buildings.
“We currently supply the city and local government, and we also do direct deliveries to residential compounds in the city. We are now selling to consumers directly, which has completely changed our business model. Yesterday we shipped out six tons of fresh cherry tomatoes, packed in 1kg boxes,” continue Dirk.
“We are in survival mode. We managed to find alternative clients, but every shipment is a struggle. Local, fresh food is in huge demand. We know that some residents are struggling to receive fresh food for more than ten days now. This situation is definitely making a case for local food production.”
Fortunately, the morale of the team is very high. “Luckily the atmosphere in the team is good and strong. Somehow being able to work in the greenhouse might be better than sitting home alone, it’s an opportunity to have income and to produce something that people need and value. This is one learning that we received from the situation. People care about our products, there’s a lot of appreciation.”
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