A specific indemnity fund for the Italian floricultural and nurseries world will compensate companies for the heavy financial losses suffered during the lockdown. With this provision, to be included in the next Prime Ministerial Decree expected shortly, the Government will meet the requests from the sector which lost from 30 to 50% of turnover between March and April.
The commitment was announced by Francesco Saverio Abate, head of the Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Forests Department of Agrofood Quality Competition Policies, during the Flormart OnLife Roadshow web talk which brought operators in the Italian floricultural and nurseries world together on Wednesday 29 April to discuss problems associated with the crisis and outline the future of the sector. “No-one must be left behind”, explained Francesco Abate. “The world of floriculture and nurseries has suffered enormous losses and necessitates extraordinary measures. In particular, we need to move in three directions: the indemnity fund, simplification of the public administration’s bureaucratic procedures and a strong drive to promote Italian products abroad and on the home market. Minister Teresa Bellanova will shortly be convening a roundtable to consider all the operators’ proposals.”
Seen by more than 100 participants connected in live streaming, the Flormart OnLife Roadshow provided an opportunity to take stock of the current situation and discuss the measures needed to start again during the post-Covid phase. In his introduction to the contributions, Luca Veronesi, Managing Director of Fiera di Padova, recalled: “We are at the beginning of a physical and virtual journey which will bring us to the next edition of Flormart in September 2021. A journey which, as early as December 2020, will include a new occasion for an exchange of views with the Flormart City Forum, a special one-day event dedicated to professionals, companies and the public administration to reflect on the future of green infrastructure in our cities.”
The debate featured testimonies and proposals from various protagonists in the Italian floricultural, nurseries and green infrastructure sector. “We must be proud to say that plants and flowers are among the excellences of Made in Italy. Now is the moment when we have to relaunch consumption of Italian products”, emphasised Aldo Alberto, President of the Italian Association of Floriculturists and Nurserymen. “The announcement that the fund we asked for is being set up is a great satisfaction. But we also need facilitated access to credit. This crisis must bring new prospects, we must all work together as never before.”
“We have been in a long discussion with the Government and the Ministry”, explained Leonardo Capitanio, President of the National Association of Exporting Nurserymen. “Bringing forward the reopening of gardens and maintenance of green infrastructure helped us. But we have lost plants for a value of between 1 and 1.4 billion euros, the damage has been enormous. We need to extend financing repayment plans to at least 15 years and implement a strong promotions campaign, given that 50% of Italian production is destined for abroad.”
“We are facing an unprecedented crisis”, added Renato Ferretti, National Councillor of the Order of Agronomists and Foresters. “In the short term we need compensation for the damage, but in the medium and long terms we need to reflect on infrastructure, logistics and distribution. These problems all existed before the crisis and must be resolved. In this sense, Flormart City Forum in December will be an important occasion to explore the new organisational characteristics deployed.”
New sales strategies and innovation in the field of distribution and production processes: these are the themes that emerged from the testimonies transmitted in brief videos by sector businessman. Some of these have taken the gamble of e-commerce, with excellent results, such as Francesco Proce of Bio Alt (Milan), Vito Spinelli of Vivai Spinelli (Sammichele di Bari) and Kety Cialdi of Pollici Rosa (Casenuove di Masiano, Pistoia). But also new opportunities, such as vertical farming, the subject of the contribution by Bernardo Cigliano of Vertically.it.
The relationship between companies and the public administration was also at the centre of discussion. “Public authorities and municipalities are important interlocutors for the sector and will be so ever more”, explained Roberto Diolaiti, President of the Italian Association of Public Garden Directors and Technicians. “Measures have been introduced to incentivise tree planting and afforestation in Italian cities. We need to be ready to grasp these opportunities.”