INSIDERSSeed Health & TestingRight Now, the Challenges of Travelling are Many

Right Now, the Challenges of Travelling are Many


I’m just a couple weeks away from leaving for Chile. The last time I was there, my team and I were leaving the country in a hurry as the pandemic swept across the Western Hemisphere. We left behind good friends and our treasured lab that we have operated there since 2008.

Returning there at the end of this month will be a little more difficult, to say the least. Extra insurance, certificates showing our negative COVID results, forms showing that we are, indeed, essential agricultural workers, and of course having to enter a seven-day mandatory isolation once we get there are all in store for us as we pack our bags and get ready to head to the airport.

Because we won’t be allowed to go to our permanent lab for at least a week upon arrival, we will live in a facility on an organic blueberry farm. Samples and microscopes will be brought to us.

Things change day-by-day and even though we are booked to go, there’s still a level of uncertainty. A lot can happen in a couple of weeks, and if we are unable to go to Chile, doing our counter-season work will be a challenge to say the least.

Listening to the science is best and basing our decisions on that has made all the difference.

Thanks to modern technology, once we arrive there, our work should be relatively unhampered. Because all test results are entered into a portal on our website, clients can easily access those results. The biggest potential challenge will be in regard to delivery time.

Chilexpress — the Chilean version of Purolator — could potentially experience major delays as a result of the pandemic, which is still hitting the country hard with thousands of new cases reported each day. At the time of writing this, there have been well over 17,000 COVID deaths in Chile since the start of the pandemic — in a country of 18 million people.

It’s been strange to think I haven’t been on a plane since March of 2020. I am full of questions. Have we covered all our bases? Is everybody else OK? That’s the most important thing — the mental and physical health of your staff.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned through all this, it’s to stay clearheaded and avoid clickbait headlines when planning your next step as a business owner. The pandemic has been scary but trying to keep emotion out of my decision-making has been key. Listening to the science is best and basing our decisions on that has made all the difference.

When you next hear from me in this space, I’ll hopefully be on the ground in Chile and ready to report from the ground.

Sarah Foster
Sarah Foster
President and Senior Seed Analyst, 20/20 Seed Labs - Sarah Foster is a registered seed technologist, senior seed analyst and president of 20/20 Seed Labs — a company she started in 1989 that provides testing services for all crop kinds, including extensive quality and seed health analysis, molecular testing and accredited crop inspection. Involved in the seed industry since the late 1970s, Foster studied and qualified as an accredited seed analyst at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany in Cambridge, England. Her work experience includes seven years with Sharps Seed International (Advanta) in the United Kingdom, and five years with the United Grain Growers in Edmonton after immigrating to Canada in 1984.
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