I work for the Federation of Swedish Farmers (LRF), and at the beginning of the pandemic we worked very hard to secure food supply.
At LRF we have a scheme for farmers in need. If a farmer falls ill, there are groups that can help take care of animals or deal with other practicalities during their illness. The scheme was quickly set up back in March.
LRF has also been helping businesses match job-seekers and farmers short of labour – for example, a vegetable producer offered to employ people from a nearby hotel that had closed, and there are many other examples. Thanks to initiatives like these, and the fact that many seasonal workers from other countries could come to Sweden, the farming and forestry sectors, which initially were short of staff, have now more or less secured the workforce they need.
Many farms, especially vegetable producers, have had to change crops this year, and forest producers have had to postpone certain activities. However, overall the agricultural sector (including horticulture) seems to have been less severely affected in Sweden than in many other European countries.
However, our organisation feels strongly that we need to extend our solidarity beyond the farming world, and one very practical thing we were able to do to help was donate plastic sheets from overhead projectors in our Stockholm office to make protective visors for health workers.
Personally, I feel very fortunate. No one close to me has fallen ill with COVID-19.
I can work from home just as well as I do from the office. I can hear some neighbours arguing in my building, and that makes me think about those who are less fortunate in this lockdown ‒ people who have lost their jobs, children who have not been to school and have not had a school lunch for a long time, families living in small apartments with hardly any room to work or do homework.
But I miss my family, especially my parents, who are elderly. I miss doing ordinary things like meeting many people at the same time. And of course I miss the office and my colleagues.
In spite of all the pain, loss and disruption, I believe COVID-19 is teaching us lessons. Above all, I think it is teaching us to come to terms with uncertainty. We are very used to being able to plan our lives, but the pandemic, especially at the beginning, has forced us to change our habits. Now we have developed new habits, but we do not know how long this period of uncertainty will last.
When it's over, the first thing I want to do is meet my parents and in-laws. I have seen my parents for a socially distanced picnic in a park, but I am looking forward to spending time with them in real life, like in the good old days.