A critical breakthrough in the drive to export millions of pounds worth of daffodil bulbs to the United States and Europe has been launched in Scottish fields.
After weeks of negotiation, horticultural inspectors from SASA (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture) have finally got the official go-ahead to travel to growers in Angus, Perthshire and Aberdeenshire to start inspecting crops – an essential first step in the process to meet international protocols.
The good news came after Montrose-based Grampian Growers was forced to come to terms with losing almost all its 2020 flower harvest, largely because of a lack of clarity from Police Scotland and the Scottish Government over whether flowers are an essential crop.
Five days of indecision after Covid-19 restrictions were imposed meant 90% of pickers left, 85% of customers were lost and 75% of the flowers burst in the field.
The latest development, which will see government inspectors travelling and working separately rather than in their usual teams, was welcomed by Grampian Growers chief executive Mark Clark.
“It’s absolutely fantastic news and means the first stage of a very long process has begun,” he said.
“We have no idea what the world is going to look like in eight weeks’ time when the bulbs will be ready to be harvested.
“We don’t know if we’ll be allowed to lift them, if there will be shipping lines to transport them to the USA or customers there who will still want to buy them, but those are commercial issues we will need to confront in the weeks ahead.
“We just needed to get this stage under way, and we’re grateful for all the co-operation we’ve received.”
Daffodil bulbs account for around 40% of Grampian Growers’ turnover, cut flowers 10% and potatoes 50%. The United States is the key market for bulbs, with demand for around 2,000 tonnes followed by 1,500 tonnes to countries throughout Europe.