Fairtrade Flowers and Florists Supply
Fairtrade Flowers - Why choosing them makes a difference.
          

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As consumers in the global north we rely on agricultural products produced in the global south. Generally those products are produced under conditions that benefit those in the north more than those in the south. Most of the wealth creation in the transaction stays in the north. Fairtrade is a new way of looking at trade with the south and attempts to rebalance trade between the north and south. It is not a charity and only asks consumers to choose Fairtrade certified products whenever possible. More information on Fairtrade can be found on the Fairtrade Canada website. www.fairtrade.ca and also on the flower dedicated website of Fairtrade International www.fairtrade.net/flowers.html
In the Fairtrade movement coffee is the most recognized Fairtrade product. Many other products are certified like tea, sugar, chocolate, cocoa, wine, beer, fruits and vegetables, grains, gold, sports balls and flowers. Some widely recognized brands that purchase Fairtrade ingredients are Ben and Jerrys, Kicking Horse Coffee, Lush and Cadbury's. Within this movement awareness is raised by each product using the Fairtrade logo. The logo is a symbol the consumer can trust as the system is audited by an independent third party to ensure that products within this system meet the standards. Anyone can say they do something Fairtrade ensures this is the truth.

So how does choosing Fairtrade benefit workers in the floral industry?
  • Workers receive an extra week of holidays and defined work hours each day with overtime pay.
  • Overtime is voluntary and not forced.
  • Child labor is strictly prohibited.
  • Discrimination of any kind of is prohibited and woman receive equal wages to men.
  • Dangerous pesticides are banned.
  • Workers are encouraged to organize and trade unions can be formed.
  • A Fairtrade premium of 10% of each invoice is paid directly to a workers group for community development projects.
For more information on Fairtrade and how you can participate in this program contact your Cut Flower Customer Service Representative.
The biggest benefit for the workers and the community is the creation of a workers group at each farm. The board is democratically elected by the workers and administers the Fairtrade premium. The workers vote on how to use that premium and they have supported the following projects. These projects have a major impact on the workers lives and the community that surrounds the farm. There is a strong focus on community building and raising the standard of living. Additionally the workers feel empowered to participate democratically in selecting projects to support.

Dental Center
1003 appointments, 754 workers, 142 children, 107 community members.
Completely self-sustaining
On site and at a very reduced cost $5/cavity

Laundry Project
4 washers were purchased with Fairtrade funds.
Most homes do not have laundry facilities and washing is done by hand.
By using the machines at work a day off is now a day off to spend with family.

Housing Project

100 homes will be built, 3 stages, first 24 fully finished, 10 under construction.
Land was purchased with FT premiums and the farms money.
Homes sell for $25,000 but are worth $75,000.
Worker needs to save $10,000 down payment, rest is financed at lower than market rates.
10 - 20 homes likely sold to the community at market price to raise funds to purchase phase 2 land and begin construction.

Modern homes with electric cooktops, solid surface counters
Streets have tree lined boulevards

Homes have yards, common recreation area and services like laundry

Health and wellness
  • Mobile mammogram - screen workers and community members. Fees are 10% of the cost in the city and save a day's travel.
  • Mobile Pap Smear.
  • Early detection in both cases have saved lives.
  • Optometrist visit and glasses for children, often children cannot see and this affects their education. A pair of glasses can change their lives.
Children and education
  • Daycare-school. Creation of a school at the farm to allow children to continue education on the farm once they reach school age. Keeps family closer.
  • School supplies for children- this is a major annual expense of $60.
  • Student Scholarships- for desiring workers who wish to improve education. $416.67 per student funded 180 students.
  • Christmas Party and gifts.
Other Projects
  • Computer Lab - classes offered to workers, children and community.
  • Micro loans - to purchase cooktop or take driving course for family member to earn additional income. 5% interest rate vs 14 bank rate% Up to $5000 16 years to repay.
  • Bulk staple food purchases - save 15%-20% for basic items.
  • Purchase of cows to sell milk to the dairy industry, future goal to construct and processing and pasteurization plant to generate funds and employ locals.
  • Buying appliances for homes and fixing unsafe electrical connections, people were cooking on wood stoves, improves sanitary services.
  • Warm clothes for the community.
  • Painting and restoring community buildings and a church.
  • Emergency preparedness backpacks in volcano area. Mount Cotopaxi is an active volcano near some of the farms and under threat of impending activity and rapid evacuation the workers group purchased 300 emergency packs that could be grabbed when exiting the farm.
When running a business we focus on our costs and certainly the cost of our flowers is one of the main costs in the floral industry. We can sometimes overlook the human costs by choosing the lowest cost. The availability of Fairtrade flowers is limited but there is ample supply of Fairtrade roses in production. More roses are produced to Fairtrade standards than sold with the premium paid. If more premiums were paid more projects can be supported benefiting those that work hard to produce our flowers even more.
The awareness of Fairtrade flowers is low and a choice to support the workers should not be made based on expected consumer demand. First you have to believe in the system and then educate your customers so they will understand the impact the choice you made has. This could result in increased consumer loyalty and word of mouth amongst your customers of your support for the workers who produce your flowers.
You can change the world simply by choosing to purchase Fairtrade certified roses, every stem counts!