b'lab, but also continue to production. On the flip side, the company had to take care of the peoples mental health, and make sure they stay connected to each other. Many compa-nies now have a much more flexible policy about home working. So has Incotec. CLOSE TO THE MARKETSupply chain disruptions posed some major challenges but because of their local pres-ence, the companys processes proved to be sufficiently robust. The strategy of our com-pany has always been to produce close to the markets and it has facilities in all the conti-nents of the world, in all the major agricul-tural economies. I think that has helped us during the pandemic, says Bartels. INVESTING IN DIGITALIZATIONAs a result of the pandemic, many com-panies invested heavily in digitalization. Something that was already underway at the company before this virus hit. Our company already had strong IT skills, aSegregated production lines are important to avoid cross contamination.completely digital order process and virtual meetings rooms. Due to the pandemic, we improved the quality of those tools, plus our people got more used to working with them, says Bartels.NOT ONLY VEGETABLESIn 2023, the company will celebrate its 55th anniversary, and although it has its strong roots in vegetables and ornamentals, it has been branching out into other crop groups. For almost 30 years, the company has been treating seeds in the field crop sector. Dobrowolska-Haywood: Actually the work in field crops started in India, and then spread all over the globe. Vegetable seeds are treated at our sites, with field crops we supply the treatment product, and the seed company treats the seeds themselves. Recently also true potato seed was ini-tiated, in cooperation with Solynta. The interesting part is that there are learningsErik Jan BartelsMarta Dobrowolska-Haywoodback and forth, says Bartels. For exam-ple, we can implement knowledge from the vegetable crops into the field crops, and vice versa. And this is especially true on the pro-cessing side of things.UKRAINEOne of the targets in the F2F strategyBut climate change is not the only big chal- The indirect effect was the increase is to plant an additional 3 billion trees inlenge. The Russian invasion of the Ukrainein energy prices, especially for gas prices. the EU by 2030. And at Incotec, they areis another one. The war had a direct effectMany horticultural growers did not oper-already seeing the first signs. An interest- on our customers in both countries, withate their greenhouses in mid-winter. And ing addition is that we are treating moredisruptions in the supply chains, saysthis had an impact on our company. Luckily tree seeds lately. This is definitely a grow- Bartels. Farmers had to stop their opera- the energy prices are decreasing, and more ing sector. And more trees means moretions; warehouses were hit. It was surpris- growers are restarting their business. But carbon sequestration, which is importanting to see how resilient people were. Bywe are not sure how this will play out in in the fight against climate change. Wethe second half of 2022, many people werenext winter. The challenge for many grow-have multiple tree seed projects in multipleable to resume their business, especially iners is how to make horticulture even more sites, says Bartels. Western Ukraine.energy efficient, he adds. 8IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'