COVID-19 leaves Floricultural sector in shambles
By Alimatou S Bajinka
Floricultural sector has been one of the hardest hit sectors amid covid-19 pandemic.
The pandemic poses trickle-down effects on the sector which leads many businesses struggling with low income at the end of the day.
Floriculture is the growing of flowers, and its sector has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This reporter went out and about at the Bertil Harding Highway to look into the constraints of some vendors, and assessed the impact of COVID-19 on Floricultural sector.
Modou Keita, a vendor who sells flowers at the Bertil Harding Highway, stated the impact of COVID-19 on his business.
“Corona has truly affected my business, the flowers we sell are mostly purchased by the tourists, and hotel owners, so most of the hotels are no more operating, which leads to the low sales of my produce, it’s like in every 100 if we were earning 90 before we are currently earning just 20, in a 100, that is how bad the COVID affected my business” he said.
An anonymous vendor, who has for the past years, selling and growing flowers lamented the low income sales since COVID-19 erupted.
“I have been growing and selling flowers here for over 14years. Since the corona started, sales dropped, and it has been this way for the pass years.
I just hope and pray corona is finally gone, because this is my source of living, I depend entirely on this business to feed my family and it has been very difficult for me since then. The tourism season is like any other season. It makes no difference, my business used to be very lively and profitable, but not anymore” he said.
Thelma Ndella Cole, Vice President of the Floricultural Gardeners Association at the Bertil Harding Highway, said it has been very difficult for them as gardeners throughout since the outbreak of COVID-19.
“From the onset, the cure to COVID-19 and precautions where the focus of people, so buying flowers was the least people could think about, so our business was down, if I say down, I mean our business was and it is still down for about a year, most of us depend on growing and selling flowers for our livelihood. We live by hand to mouth, this is were we feed our families. It has been very difficult for us because we have not been seeing people coming to buy flowers or even old customers to come and patronise us.
Looking at the tourism sector, hotel owners come to buy flowers from us to beautify their hotel for tourists attractions, but with the advent of COVID-19 most hotels are closed and tourists are not coming in. So they are no more buying flowers, and they are one of our biggest clients” she remarked.
She added: “We hope and pray that we get ride of COVID-19 or the stakeholders should try and come up with measures that would make us live freely with COVID-19 because it seems it’s here to stay” she posited.
Mumine Baldeh, the Public Relations Officer of Gambia Floricultural Association highlighted numerous challenges faced by his business and the sector.
“Most part in my garden is empty and dry, there are no flowers growing there, for the past one year six months almost all our customers are not showing up, due to the COVID-19. Hotels are not operating, boarders closed and people are not coming in. Hotel areas are most of the time our targeted areas, these are the people that buy most of our flowers, even if they don’t come to us we go to them to showcase our new variety of plans, but as we speak we cannot have access to see them because most of them are scared of the people from outside because they believe we can bring COVID-19 to them by letting us in or meeting with them in there places, so that really affected our businesses and put out sales on hold” he concluded.