Western flower thrips are the pest that is causing an economical downfall (a loss of about one half-million dollars a day) for a number of Dutch cut flower companies within the last few weeks. According to the Associated Press (AP), Russia put a ban on Dutch companies after thrips were found on approximately 66 plants on their way to Southern Russia last month. To top off the infestation, copies of the accompanying documentation faxed to Dutch authorities were found to be fake, according to the AP.
A quote taken from an AP story stated, “We were not happy to see our name on the documents,” said Tamara Chaloulakos, a spokeswoman for the Baardse company that grew the infested flowers. “What happened to them we don't know.”
The story continued, saying that Chaloulakos said her company had satisfied Dutch inspectors that its original documentation and anti-pest standards were in order. However, Ton van der Molen, a spokesman for the Dutch Agriculture Ministry, said that while authorities perform stringent tests before certifying shipments, the system is not foolproof.
Last week officials from Russia and The Netherlands tried to discuss the problem, but nothing at that point was solved; currently both countries are working on solutions. According to the AP “of the $7.4 billion in flowers that The Netherlands exports annually, $160 million worth are sold to Russia — up 15 percent in the first half of 2004 over the same period a year ago.”
The AP states that Russian media has reported The Netherlands accounting for as much as 60-75 percent of Russian flower imports. As of right now, the ban has not caused problems in Russia because July is when many Russians use the short growing period to cultivate their own crops for sale. However, people are predicting that if the ban continues, Russia will start to see serious trouble in the market.
Currently Russia is also importing flowers from Germany and Latin America, according to the AP.