Floritec is, for the supply of cutting material, dependent on the production location of its partner Xclusive in Uganda. Although there are only 54 officially registered infections in the country and nobody has been known to have succumbed to the coronavirus*, the two-week overall lockdown has been extended by another three weeks. This is causing headaches for director Jeroen Ravensbergen.
Preparation and distribution of food on the farm
This lockdown is of an even more far-reaching type than the one in the Netherlands, as commuting is also prohibited, he says. “Our greatest concern therefore lies with our employees. When the strict measures were announced, they were given just one day to decide: do I stay on the farm or do I go home. That choice was theirs, but it means that people are now locked up for another three weeks either on the farm or at home. Everything is going well for the time being, but there certainly are risks.”
It takes some improvisation, but there is a mattress for everyone
Part of the staff has always been living on the farm. By making good use of the available spaces, about 70% of all employees can now stay on the farm. Decent living conditions are guaranteed, according to Jeroen. Sanitary facilities, care and food are all properly arranged. Easter, for example, was also celebrated with an extra festive meal and activities were and are organized for all religious denominations, as far as circumstances permit.
Jeroen states, despite the fact that the location is not close to a big city, but rather concerns small local communities, the authorities maintain a fairly tight control so that no one can commute. “The point is that the lockdown shouldn't take too long. When the crisis started a few weeks ago, demand from our side faltered and also logistics in general. That was a bit of a shock, but now that we have a reasonably stable demand again - 70 to 80% of our starting material finds its way back to regular customers - we can also guarantee work for our people there. That is now more important than ever. Although there are fewer people and though the enthusiasm is great, it still concerns a few hundred workers. If they don't have anything to do, it's not hard to imagine how this could lead to problems.”
The primary problem, the faltering of international logistics, has more or less been tackled. “It is a lot of figuring out and arranging every day, but, as has been decided, the cargo is too important not to get involved in it. We are faced with strongly changing circumstances, with delays, with new routes and with higher prices, which are indeed tens of percents higher than before. However, this is manageable. Now that our customers have largely recovered, our concerns are mainly for our people in Uganda.”
*figures are from last Tuesday