Coronavirus: Letter from the CEO of Syngenta - Choosing to stand together
Mar. 27, 2020
Last summer I traveled to Northern Italy to visit several farms and our Syngenta office in Milan. Anyone who has made the trip by train from Basel to Milan knows it is stunning. Beneath huge mountains, deep blue mountain lakes were dotted by sailboats gliding through the summer light. After a night in Milan we traveled across Lombardy and Piedmont, with their expanses of rolling hills and rich farmland, famous for the production of grapes and hazelnuts.
The charm of the area, with its picturesque villages, heartwarming people and magnificent food, is justifiably globally recognized. Our team spent an enjoyable summer evening with grape growers and other farmers on the terrace of a beautiful restaurant surrounded by ancient trees. The sun set during a passionate and insightful conversation about agriculture, as I enjoyed the best pasta and wine I’d ever tasted.
Watching the news now, it becomes so much harder to remember these lovely days. It’s impossible not to be deeply saddened by images of Milan’s empty streets and packed hospitals and by the fact that Italy is now burdened by more coronavirus cases and deaths even than China.
How could this have happened? And more importantly, what can we do now to overcome this global health crisis and get through this together?
As CEO of Syngenta, I spend a lot of time traveling around the world, meeting with the farmers who rely on our products, services and advice to grow the crops that feed all of us. Last year I met with growers in 15 countries, from very different economic and cultural backgrounds, running all types of farms. Regardless of their differences, they had one thing in common: a tremendous passion for helping to feed the world and for taking care of our planet.
These people love what they do. So do we at Syngenta.
The new coronavirus represents a major additional challenge for farmers, for Syngenta and, of course, for the entire world. The global spread of COVID-19 has already wrecked many lives and has millions more worried. Our society is dealing with issues ranging from job loss to caring for family members young and old, all while adjusting to unfamiliar new social rules and attitudes.
At Syngenta we are taking every possible precaution to protect our people – teleworking, social distancing, frequent hand-washing and much more. We are also doing everything we can to support our customers, who grow the crops the world continues to rely on during this crisis.
Even with many of our employees now working from home, we are finding new ways to support farmers with digital tools and innovative technologies. We are training more farmers online and providing agronomical advice via livestreaming and video conferencing. These digital tools can help farmers plant the right crops at the right time in a more efficient way – making it easier to manage even large farms with fewer people in difficult circumstances.
The current crisis shows just how interconnected the world is today. That may present challenges, but it also enables some remarkable solutions – solutions that harness coordinated joint action to fulfill people’s essential needs.
In the present situation, farmers all around the world are heroes who will continue to ensure that the supply of healthy and environmentally friendly crops remains strong and reliable. Our industry is proud to play an essential part in supporting them.
This year will surely go down in history, not just for the pandemic, but for the many ways in which people are choosing to stand together, join forces and support the vital efforts of those who continue to provide the essential goods and services we need to live.
Syngenta is ready to support any government efforts to ensure the reliability of the food supply at this trying time.
Our farmers are doing everything necessary to keep enough food on everyone’s tables, despite the many difficulties, both technical and personal. I would personally like to thank them for their commitment. And I want also to thank all remarkable people at Syngenta who strive to serve our farmers with their professionalism, innovation and heart.
I am humbled by the many acts of bravery, kindness and support I have witnessed by the medical professionals in each part of the world. This troubling time has brought out the best in many.
Take care and stay safe.
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