Interview with Antonio López, manager of the association of Canarian producers (ASOCAN)

antonio-lopez-asocan

Iberflora, international fair of plant and flower, landscaping, technology and DIY Gardening, has spoken to the manager of the Association of Harvesters and Exporters of Flowers and Live Plants of the Canary Islands (ASOCAN).

After a few turbulent years in the Canarian nursery, first because of the pandemic, and then, especially in Gran Canaria due to the eruption of the volcano, How do you assess the state of the Canarian nursery sector after the last Father's Day campaign?? What expectations do Canarian producers have regarding the Easter and Mother's Day campaign??

The state of the sector right now is not bad, but of great concern, the increase in the price of fuel, electrical energy, inputs, the amount of administrative bureaucracy created by the public administration (food chain, crop declarations, new register for SIEX agricultural holdings, etc.), and in general, the exorbitant increase in the cost of living in recent months, keeps us in a state of constant concern.

However, if something good has left us this pandemic, is the need to have a nearby natural environment, call it garden, park, balcony, window or even interiors, where we can have flowers and plants, so that the consumption of our product is in good condition, and makes us optimistic about these upcoming campaigns.

ASOCAN has hosted a few weeks ago, on the islands of Tenerife and La Palma, the XIV International Protea Research Symposium and the Conference of the International Protean Association, months after part of the production of this crop was affected by the ashes of the Cumbre Vieja volcano. What is the current situation of protea producing companies in the archipelago?? Why is the celebration of these events on the islands positive for producers?

The production of proteas as a cut flower suffered a lot with the pandemic closing not only most of its markets, but also your means of transport, the airway. And when it seemed that everything was back to normal, the volcano appeared charging half of the campaign, mainly for producers on the island of La Palma.

Despite all this, it is a sector that is growing and that expects to continue growing, for this reason, the celebration of the International Symposium of Proteas with the help of the Government of the Canary Islands through PROEXCA, and the Cabildos of La Palma and Tenerife. Events like this ensure the future of cultivation on the islands, we were able to count on the best field technicians from the main producing areas (South Africa, U.S, Portugal), with the best researchers from advanced research centers (Israel, Hawaii, South Africa, Chile), the main distributors in the Netherlands, and the largest producers of the crop in the world, if also, we have the support of local researchers from the University of La Laguna and a Coordinator, Mr. Juan Alberto Rodriguez, who was the one who introduced this crop to the islands more than 30 years, we have the perfect ingredients to lay the foundations of a good technical knowledge that allows us to establish strong pillars for the development of the crop on the islands in the coming years.

The association has promoted for years "Flowers and live plants of the Canary Islands", a promotional campaign whose objective is to encourage the inhabitants of the islands to consume flowers and plants grown in the Canary Islands, and since the beginning of the pandemic, also sent home. How do you assess the evolution of the campaign from its beginning to the present?

Another positive thing about the pandemic was to show us how important the local product is., not only for the freshness and quality that we gain in its consumption, but for the generation of economic activity that it supposes for the region. We have to teach our people what is produced here and let them know how to differentiate the local product from the rest., for this reason, the campaigns carried out have not only been focused on the health and ornamentation provided by flowers and plants, but to its origin since we are one of the main producing areas of the country.

Home service in our sector came with the pandemic, previously it was, but it was not representative, right now it has become another more important marketing channel for companies in the sector.

Has the aid to producers by the Cabildo and the Ministry of Agriculture become tangible as a result of the pandemic crisis?? Is aid also expected to the sector to alleviate the damage caused by the volcano?

Fortunately, we have had the support of the different public bodies with which we have a relationship., starting with the Government of the Canary Islands, Cabildos, Ministry, and even in some cases, Town hall. They were of great help at first when there was no liquidity and only destruction of products..

We expect for our producers in La Palma aid for the damage caused by the volcano, we have the commitment of the Autonomous Government and so far they have not failed us.

In the last edition of Iberflora we already saw an increase in Canarian exhibitors in the event. Will we see again a wide representation of Canarian companies in Iberflora?

In this first IBERFLORA after the pandemic, the companies wanted to leave, see your customers again, perceive the environment of the sector, recover personal relationships between clients, suppliers, and other related entities, and that showed. I don't know what it will be like this year, but surely at least we will go the same because the companies left this fair very happy for the results obtained.

Iberflora is preparing a new, more experiential and innovative concept in 2022, Iberflora New Generation What do you expect from the next edition of Iberflora?

Well, sounds good., IBERFLORA is our representative fair not only at the national level, but at the international level, everything they do I'm sure will be to improve the future of the sector, and we will always be there.