Flower growers in Vietnam told RFA the coronavirus is killing their industry, which took a huge hit this month after restrictions on gatherings caused demand for flowers to celebrate Lunar New Year to crater.
The Lunar New Year Holiday, which falls on Friday this year and is called Tet in Vietnamese, is peak season for flower sales, but with large sections of major cities under quarantine, the farmers worry that people will skip out on the traditional Tet flower fairs, where growers normally see huge sales volume.
In the capital Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh City, many areas are completely closed down for what is usually a time for celebration with large crowds attending festivals, and more importantly for farmers and vendors, spending money.
“Dead! Everything is dying! How is it possible to live during such a pandemic?” a flower grower at the flower village in the capital Hanoi told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
A farmer who came from distant Binh Dinh province, in southern Vietnam, to sell trees in Hanoi’s Tet fair told RFA that business was slow.
“Due to COVID-19, local people are afraid to go out, so my business is not very good,” he said.
“I transported 250 apricot trees to Hanoi’s Tet flower fair. But I have not been able to sell all of them,” he added.
A kumquat vendor at the fair told RFA, “Business is so bad.”
“There are no clients and prices are cheaper than last year due to COVID-19.”
Vietnam has been among the most successful countries in tackling COVID-19, reporting no deaths among its 95 million people through late July—a record that was attributed to effective contact tracing, strict quarantines, and early testing.
Since the start of the pandemic, the country has seen three major outbreaks of the disease but has managed to keep its confirmed case totals relatively low—just 2,142 as of Friday, with only slightly more than half transmitted locally. Meanwhile, 1,531 have recovered from the disease, while 35 have died.
The most recent surge, first detected on Jan. 28 in the northern province of Hai Duong, has accounted for 555 local transmissions through Friday, two of which occurred on Tet and the day before.
RFA reported last week that due to the Hai Duong outbreak, authorities ordered all citizens to submit health declarations, and warned that they could lose telecommunications access if they refused.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Eugene Whong.