Flower farmers and workers

Fairtrade is working with flower farmers and workers to strengthen their businesses and communities. It’s increasingly important to the economies of countries disadvantaged by unfair global trade structures. Most flowers are produced on commercial farms and provide employment opportunities and improved livelihoods for millions of workers.

The flower trade also brings in foreign exchange for investment in economic development. For example, Kenya’s flower industry provides vital income for up to two million people.

A study conducted in 2023 and titled  Impact of Fairtrade on flower workers and market access of flower farms in East Africa found Fairtrade flowers workers in East Africa experience higher wages, better working conditions, and greater engagement in workers’ rights issues and gender equity than their non-Fairtrade certified counterparts.

In addition to boosted wages, the study’s results note that nearly nine out of ten workers at Fairtrade certified flower farms reported that they or their household members have individually benefited from Fairtrade Premium funds with the most popular uses of the Premium going to education bursaries; home improvement items; and community projects such as water, health and school infrastructure. The Fairtrade Premium, a unique tool available to Fairtrade-certified farmers, is an additional sum of money that farmers and workers invest in projects they choose. The report adds that the Fairtrade Premium appears to both “enable empowerment and reduce financial pressure” among the flower workers surveyed.

Extra Income from Fairtrade sales spent on environmental improvements.

Extra income from Fairtrade has supported interventions aimed at environmental restoration and management. These include projects such as tree planting, the provision of litter bins, and purchase of energy-saving cooking stoves.

Fairtrade, through the Fairtrade Premiums, and flower farms, through their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, have stepped up tree planting in neighbouring schools and communities. In Ethiopia, for example, one producer was in the second phase of tree planting covering 30 hectares of land. Phase 1 targeted 13 hectares over five years. The farm also supplies seedlings to community members and their workers to plant in the community.

In Uganda, another producer focused on a fruit tree campaign where, for the last 4-5 years, they gave community members over 4,000 fruit tree saplings annually. This had not only supported food security campaigns, but the trees have improved the general tree cover in the area around the farm. Other farms maintained a wetland system and converts flower waste into organic mulch.

Climate and the Environment

Fairtrade flowers are often better for the environment than you might expect. A new report just published in January 2024 and titled ‘Life Cycle Assessment Cut Roses’, found that Fairtrade cut roses from Kenya – whether transported to Switzerland or other European countries by air or sea – have a lower impact across all the environmental areas analysed, including cumulative energy demand, greenhouse gas emissions, and freshwater eutrophication, a pollution process where lakes or streams become over-rich in plant nutrients.   

In Ireland we are asking our supporters to buy Fairtrade roses and other flowers for special occasions and for special people. If not available, we need to ask those retailers that are not yet selling Fairtrade roses to do so, and we have postcards available to help people do this.

Profile: Ravine Roses, Kenya

Ravine Roses is part of Karen Roses Limited Group, a company established in 1989 by the Kotut family.