Growing Flowers throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic

Growing Flowers throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic

Since the Coronavirus spread practically throughout the planet and the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, there is plenty of news of agricultural producers who have left their work or changed their crop activity. But there are cases in which this has not happened, such as Expoflora, a flower farm in Costa Rica with the Rainforest Alliance certificate.

Specialized in the production of lilies, the Expoflora farm imports the bulbs from the Netherlands and when the coronavirus reached Costa Rican lands (at the beginning of March), it had already bought the seed required to face its highest sales season. Almost 90 percent of Expoflora's production is exported to America, and two-thirds of its flowers are sold in supermarkets.

From one day to the next, orders plummeted, causing sales in April to barely reach 25% of typical figures. But, this decrease could not be translated into ceasing to produce. It was necessary to have flowers available as some buyers chose to place orders almost overnight. Besides, the growing areas were planted, and the flowers had to be harvested.

So the company, like so many around the world, is facing significant losses that it will be difficult to recover in the short term since its large market has just started its summer, a time when, according to manager René Kuiper, people We buy fewer flowers because the temperature allows us to be in greater contact with nature. We have them closer (even in our own gardens).

Despite such a bleak outlook, Expoflora has found a way to maintain its business motivation and even help others to smile in times of pandemic. At the beginning of May, it received a request from the Netherlands' Embassy in Costa Rica to celebrate Liberation Day in a very meaningful way. Without hesitation, it accepted. In just three days of work, its 80 workers (all inhabitants of Santa Bárbara de Heredia, in the north-central region of the country) prepared and distributed 2,000 bouquets to the health and operations personnel of six national hospitals and other health centers as the front lines of the health crisis. That gesture was appreciated by those 2,000 heroes and the entire country that celebrated the business support for its essential workers.

Rainwater storage tank

The farm is also taking advantage of the season, which now in Costa Rica coincides with the beginning of the rainy season, to continue its conservation and reforestation efforts. After receiving technical support from experts from the National University of Costa Rica, it has identified native tree species that favor the feeding of birds and other animals to finish completing the biological corridor that is part of the 15-hectare area dedicated to conservation (the farm has a total of 30 hectares).

That is not the only environmental practice that the company promotes. Precisely very close to where people will plant the new trees, it has built a tank to collect the rainwater that falls on the roofs of the greenhouse, area and that liquid is then reused in irrigation.

As the cultivation of flowers is an intensive agricultural activity and the farm is committed to the good production practices that the Rainforest Alliance Standard for Sustainable Agriculture requires, organic fertilizers and bacteria are used to maintain the soil's quality. Since the company is practically at the Barva Volcano foot, we are talking about volcanic soil rich in nutrients.

These are part of the practices that Expoflora has been implementing for six years when it decided to be part of the certification program and respond to clients who demand beautiful but responsibly grown flowers.