Seed World

The Impact of COVID-19 on the EU Seed Sector – Portugal

Interview with Silvia Benquerença, interim Secretariat of the Portuguese Seed Association ANSEME, 1 April 2020

European Seed (ES): Silvia how is Portugal doing under COVID-19?

Silvia Benquerença (SB): We too are experiencing some difficulties with seed supply from other Member States. The main problem concerns logistics, as it is becoming difficult to get transport to bring seed from countries like France or Italy.

ES: So, it is the transportation that is the biggest problem?

SB: It’s becoming more difficult to find transportation companies to do these itineraries, don’t forget that all the land transportation coming from Europe or outside, must cross Spain to come to Portugal. And these companies are facing problems with lack of people to work, difficult conditions when crossing countries like Spain or France (we have some comments saying that in some areas, the truckers are not allowed to stop for rest or eating).

ES Are there enough seeds available for the farmers?

SB: Fortunately, in some crops we see some “anticipated campaign”, and many farmers have already the seeds at home or even at the field. For other crops (winter crops) the problem will start if we extend this situation for a long time. We also have some members that had made a seed stock before this month (when we started with the restrictions rules). So, there is a lot of different realities according to seed business type.

ES: How about the other services?

SB: About public services, so far, we are not receiving many complaints, of course we notice a slight delay, for example for certificates for export, internal seed lot certification and analyses but for now, we don’t see it as a major problem. About the implemented measures, we followed the instructions given by our Portuguese Health Authorities and spread it through to our members. It is widely held, for everyone, that if we continue with no precautionary measures, bigger problems will appear for sure. Our members major concern about the near future is related to the economic crisis that will appear for sure.