A striking ad in the Dutch newspaper last week: wanted 100 workers, for 2 months, for different greenhouses in the Westland region, "for planting and grubbing of bulbs, cutting leaves, harvesting of Amaryllis cut flowers and various other activities."

It is a ‘cry of distress’ from Dutch Amaryllis nursery Knoppert. The nursery has plenty of amaryllis in different locations in the Westland, a product that is growing peacefully throughout the year but must be harvested in one time just before Christmas. A tremendous job, which requires extra workers, and a lot at that too. "Throughout the year we work with about 30 people, but in the last two months of the year we need about 400. Last year we fell far short, the shortage was crippling. This year, I fear, will not be easier."

It has been more often in the news recently: staff shortage in horticulture is a growing problem, mainly because workers from Poland are increasingly staying away, as Knoppert explains. “The shortage is simply caused by the improving economy, Polish workers can earn the same or even more in Germany. And it’s even closer to home."

What makes finding staff more difficult is Christmas itself. Firstly, in summer (vacation) you might use students, but not in winter. Secondly, if you have a choice between having a nice Christmas dinner or sweating in the greenhouse, what would you do?

Does Knoppert still think about more automation? "Of course, but that is plainly difficult. Amaryllis is not a product that is easy to automate, it needs a lot of manual work. Just imagine to develop and buy expensive machines for 6 weeks a year. It is simply not feasible."

Perhaps you have some free time available, or a nephew who needs to get away from his computer? Click here for the job ad (which is in Dutch).

For more information:
CV J.W. Knoppert en Zn
T: +31(0)174 422 536