Costa Rican flower farmers have started destroying lilies, roses and chrysanthemums they have lovingly tended for months after the coronavirus outbreak led to the suspension of flights to markets in the United States and Canada.
“This was our work. We have grown and cared for them since they were seeds,” said Cristian Quiros, a worker at the Flores y Verdes del Irazu farm in the central city of Cartago. “Now we have to throw them away, and it’s such a difficult feeling.”
William Quiros, owner of the flower farm, estimated that Costa Rica’s sector lost $10 million in the past two months alone from not being able to sell cut flowers, and $25 million in total when factoring in lost sales of other types of flowers.
March and April are usually the top months in revenue terms for flower farms in Costa Rica, one of the largest exporters in the Americas, with Mother’s Day in the United States generating peak demand.
Quiros said his workers are now cutting the flowers anyway because growing them would deplete the soil of nutrients. But their hours and pay have been reduced significantly.