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SCP Evidence Base: Sustainable

Commodities Case Studies


CUT FLOWERS
May 2007

Development of the Evidence Base: Sustainable Commodities


Final Report
Case Study CUT FLOWERS

TABLE OF CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ..........................................................................................III
1
COMMODITY OVERVIEW..............................................................................1
2
SUPPLY AND DEMAND STATISTICS AND TRENDS ..................................5
3
POLICIES AND INITIATIVES .........................................................................5
4
SUPPLY CHAIN ANALYSIS. .......................................................................12
5
IMPACT ASSESSMENT...............................................................................24
6
SUMMARY....................................................................................................39
APPENDIX I LITERATURE REVIEW ...................................................................42

LIST OF TABLES
Table 1: Main flower varieties grown in major exporting countries.............................3
Table 2: The UKs top trading partners ......................................................................5
Table 3: Top Trading Partners total exports of cut flowers.........................................1
Table 4: The proportion cut flowers makes up of total exports from UK partners ......1
Table 5: Top 20 importing countries of cut flowers.....................................................2
Table 6: Top 10 Fastest-growing importing countries ................................................3
Table 7: Estimates of employment in export horticulture in Kenya and Zambia.......30
Table 8: Air miles from key cut flower exporters to the UK ......................................37

Development of the Evidence Base: Sustainable Commodities


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Case Study CUT FLOWERS

LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1: Supply chain overview for cut flowers .......................................................12
Figure 2: Inputs and outputs for cut flower pre-cultivation........................................13
Figure 3: Production and harvesting inputs and outputs ..........................................15
Figure 4: Processing inputs and outputs..................................................................17
Figure 5: Main stakeholders in Kenyan flower industry............................................20

LIST OF BOXES
Box 1: Problems with codes of conduct for cut flower production ............................11

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Executive Summary
The UKs significance
In 2004, the UK imported 202,570,764kg of cut flowers 1 from the rest of the world.
This was the equivalent of nearly $978,245,175 in terms of trade value. The
Netherlands is by far the UKs most important trading partner in cut flowers,
importing flowers worth a total of almost US$800 million in 2004. This represents
approximately 79% of all UK imports of cut flowers. The Netherlands is a major
grower of cut flowers. However, the international auctions in the Netherlands mean
that it is an important staging country for cut flower imports from other countries
worldwide 2 . After the Netherlands, the major producer countries exporting directly
to the UK in 2004 were Kenya (8%), Colombia (4%) and Spain (4%). The figures
in brackets represent % of total UK imports from each country by value in US
dollars, based on data from Comtrade.
In analysing the UKs relative importance in the cut flowers market, the proportion of
the UKs consumption of the total production of cut flowers was calculated. The
proportion of the market of most significance is Kenya (8.64%) followed by Columbia
(4.20%) and then the Netherlands (1.05%).
In the wider context, the UKs position as a global consumer of cut flowers should be
recognised. As the leading importer of cut flowers world wide, and a country that
experienced nearly 20% growth in the market between 2000 and 2004, the UK
clearly has a significant role in the global consumption of cut flowers, if not a country
specific one.
Supply chain and environmental impacts
For cut flowers, the stages of production can be split into (see figure overleaf for
overview of the life cycle of Cut Flowers):

Pre-cultivation - Farm establishment

Cultivation (Production and harvesting)

Processing and Transportation

Distribution

SITC Rev.3 code 29271 Cut flowers and flower buds of a kind suitable for bouquets or for ornament
Comtrade data on imports of cut flowers to the Netherlands show that Kenya (36%), Israel (15%), Zimbabwe (9%), Ecuador
(9%) and Uganda (5%) were the major trading partners. The figures in brackets represent % of total Netherlands imports from
each country by value in US dollars, based on data from Comtrade.
2

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Pre-cultivation

This is characterised by the acquisition and preparation of land suitable for the
cultivation of cut flowers. Key characteristics for this land are (dependant on
variety):

Availability of water supply;

Suitable climate;

Availability of labour; and

Environmental protection (from wind, sun rain, pests, diseases etc).


Impacts

The main impacts can be categorised into:

Landscape: the increased use of green houses and plastic protective covers
can blight the landscape particularly in high mountain areas. This is particularly
the case in the mountain plateau areas of Colombia but would be applicable I
other areas where green houses were a significant proportion of cut flower
cultivation

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Land use: The requirement for a plentiful supply of water as well good transport
links to grow and transport flowers means that plantations or farms are likely to
be located in areas of high population density and hence compete with demand
for land for housing or agricultural uses 3 .

Air pollution and climate change: Methyl bromide 4 gas is usually applied to
the soil before the crop is planted and the soil is then covered with plastic tarps.
When the tarps are removed, part of the gas will eventually enter the atmosphere
Cultivation

Inputs into cultivation of cut flowers are dependent on a number of variables, such
as climate and variety (indigenous varieties are often grown in open fields whereas
non-indigenous varieties may need to be cultivated in greenhouses and may require
additional resources such as water and chemical treatment).
Key demands during this stage include:

Fertilisers use of both organic and non-organic

Herbicides & fungicides including the possible use of Methyl bromide

Pesticides

Irrigation (water) this is crucial to cultivation, indeed ~60000litres/h/day 5 of


water is needed for flower cultivation in Uganda

Labour - tasks involved require high levels of dexterity, concentration and


decision-making. Tasks include bed preparation, planting, spraying of pesticides
and irrigation, disbudding, training the plants growth direction, weeding,
cultivation, mulching, pruning, and cutting the flowers
Impacts

The impacts of cultivation can be spit into the following areas:

Chemical inputs: the application of chemicals is integral to the production of cut


flowers, it is not only the quantity (for example, the Colombian flower industry
uses 200 kg of pesticides for each hectare of flowers under cultivation) but also
the in combination effects of multiple chemical applications (for example
Ecuadorian rose producers typically use six fungicides, four insecticides, three
nematicides and several herbicides). Furthermore, as with pre-cultivation, the
use of methyl bromide can contribute to the greenhouse effect. These chemicals
can leach into ground water and surface waters, causing pollution of the aquatic
environment

World flowers state that newly established flower farms can attract infrastructure and migrants.
4 (methyl bromide is on the list of banned ozone-depleting substances of the Montreal Protocol)
5
Asea, P, K, Kaija, D, 2002 Impacts of the Flower Industry in Uganda, International Labour Office,
http://www.ilo.org/public/english/dialogue/sector/papers/uganflow/index.htm, [accessed 4/7/07]

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Water use: Abstraction of water for irrigation for cut flower production can affect
groundwater levels and water levels in surface water supplies in areas of
production, with consequent effects on the landscape, on water supplies for
neighbouring communities and on biodiversity

Pollution: Serious water pollution can result from the use of surface water (e.g.
from lakes and rivers) for irrigation of cut flowers. Excessive irrigation can lead
to salinisation, because salts contained in irrigation water accumulate in the soil
as the water evaporates or is used by plants. The intensity of the use of plastics
in developing countries can contribute heavily to pollution in the form of nonbiodegradable waste

Biodiversity: Plants can tolerate salt in limited concentrations, but heavy soil
deposits can make land infertile. The excessive use of fertilisers and other
chemicals can result in eutrophication of water supplies

Air pollution: Fumicide and pesticide spray application. The impacts on human
health of exposure to chemical sprays, including in enclosed greenhouse
environments, are better documented in relation to the flower industry

Energy and climate change: Growing in heated greenhouses occurs in


countries where the climate is too cold, too dry or too irregular or where nighttime
temperatures drop, particularly at higher altitudes. The tendency for cut flowers
to be grown at altitude in developing countries (Kenya, Ecuador, Colombia)
means that night time temperatures can be cooler and growers may use heating
at night to accelerate growing. Furthermore, in hotter countries, flowers and
plants can be cultivated in cooled greenhouses, because the outside
temperature is too hot. Keeping flowers in a heated or a cooled greenhouse
requires a large amount of energy. In most cases, energy is generated by
burning fossil fuels, which generates CO2

Soil Erosion: Soil erosion is likely to be an issue in the vicinity of steep slopes
such as the high altitude growing areas of Colombia and Ecuador. An ILO report
(2000) comments that soil erosion is an issue for smallholder farmers rather than
larger plantations. However, little data has been identified that specifically
identifies soil erosion as a concern

Economic: The labour intensive nature of the flower industry has been a major
factor in its promotion in developing countries, as a positive impact for
employment creation (employing 40,000-70000 in Kenya alone). However,
much of the employment is on a temporary, seasonal or casual basis, reducing
the positive benefits for employees and increasing vulnerability to shocks,
particularly when employment benefits are reduced for non-permanent
employees

Vulnerability: The reliance on temporary or seasonal workers and the


inadequate protection against unfair dismissal, even for permanent employees,
indicate that the cut flower sector does not provide strong protection for
employees against shocks

Labour: Labour conditions cover a range of issues affecting workers, for which
international and national labour standards have been established

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Job insecurity and harsh treatment of seasonal and casual workers have been
identified

Excessive requirements for overtime is identified to be a problem, particularly for


workers engaged in the packing houses

Employment benefits, such as sick pay, maternity pay, housing allowance,


healthcare and childcare can all have positive socio-economic impacts for
workers and their families and the wider local economy

Forced or child labour were not identified as issues in reports on cut flower
production in Kenya or Zambia

Inequality: Impacts for inequality have been identified through an number of


studies and can be summarised as:

Insecurity of employment for women who are over-represented amongst nonpermanent workers

Overtime, making it difficult to balance childcare with employment

Low wages and childcare, where women unable to afford childcare may leave
their children unsupervised or out of school during work or children are
separated from their mothers

Discrimination against pregnant women in decisions concerning recruitment and


redundancy, lack of access to maternity leave

Gendered allocations of jobs reducing womens opportunities for promotion

Particular risks from exposure to chemicals for pregnant and breastfeeding


women

Sexual harassment and verbal abuse

Health and Safety: employers often fail to provide sufficient training and
protective gear to workers who face daily exposure to toxic chemicals.
Governmental regulations regarding pesticide use and health and safety
standards are often insufficient or unenforced
Processing

Labour inputs are key to the post-harvest process. The tasks involved after
cutting flowers include classifying, packing and labelling. Again, these tasks require
high levels of dexterity, concentration and decision-making. The seasonal peaks in
demand can result in round-the-clock demand for labour in the packing and grading
houses.
One of the most important elements is an efficient and unbroken cold chain system.
Incorrect harvesting, packaging or storage can lead to flower senescence (looking
older), wilting, leaf yellowing or shattering (loss of leaves/petals). Refrigerated
aircraft ship flowers from international locations. For developing countries exporting
to Europe, the availability of regular (ideally daily) international scheduled flights can
be a crucial factor in the viability and competitiveness of the sector in the
international trade.

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Impacts
Key impacts during the processing and transportation stage include:

Air pollution: The international transport of cut flowers is done by air. Air travel
is particularly damaging due to the amount of fuel burnt, composition of the fuel
(kerosene) and the nature of its emission into the atmosphere (i.e. at high
altitude). This is particularly unavoidable for developing countries exporting cut
flowers to Europe. Research conducted for DEFRA on food miles concluded
that air travel is the most environmentally damaging mode of transport in terms
of climate change. Although air freight of food accounts for only 1% of food
tonne kilometres and 0.1% of vehicle kilometres, it produces 11% of the food
transport CO2 equivalent emissions 6

Water pollution: Sometimes flowers are dyed to alter or deepen the flowers
natural colour. This can lead to the pollution of ground- and surface water
because of the emission of dyes and preliminary treatment substances

Packaging: The trade in cut flowers generates a considerable amount of


packaging waste. Packaging materials can cause impacts through the release of
chemicals during production and degradation
Trading and distribution

There are four main routes for growers and exporters to access international
markets: directly through auctions, using an agent to sell your produce at an auction,
via an import wholesaler, or directly to a retail chain.
This stage of the supply chain is mainly within Europe, both at the Dutch auctions
and within the UK. This study is concerned with impacts outside the UK. It was felt
that this stage is likely to have the least impacts within the Netherlands, relevant EU
legislation and environmental practices are likely to be adequate to address
negative social impacts, particularly given the scale and significance of the Dutch
auction houses. However, it is possible that there are some harmful environmental,
social or economic impacts associated with this stage.

AEA Technology, 2005, ED50254 Issue 7 The Validity of Food Miles as an Indicator of Sustainable Development: Final
Report produced for DEFRA. DEFRA

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Key initiatives and policies
Policies
All flowers and plants are subject to phytosanitary regulations intended to prevent
the introduction of plant pests and diseases, which are not present in the EU.
Moreover, various organisations and representative bodies are developing
environmental as well as social standards connected to the conditions in which
plants and flowers are grown and harvested. When exporting cut flowers to the EU,
a number of legislative regulations are relevant:

Plant health control

CITES regulations

Breeders regulations

Quality and grading

Packaging and marking

The environmental, social and safety aspects of products and production have
gained increasing attention both in producer countries and in consumer countries,
particularly within Europe and the United States, with greater legislation put in place,
engagement by UK supermarkets concerned about their supply chains and
significant consumer movements. A number of organisations control and regulate
these matters:

Floriculture Environment Programme or Milieu Project Sierteelt (MPS): A


Dutch environmental code with an optional social chapter, which assesses and
certifies its participants environmental performance and links with other quality
standards (ISO 9001, GAP and by implication, ETI)

International Flower Co-ordination (IFC) and Flower Label Programme


(FLP): Unlike the MPS, this programme labels products based on human rights
and environmental standards, with an International Code of Conduct for Cut
Flowers (ICC)

Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI): The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is an alliance
of companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and trade union
organisations. It has developed its own base code and it also promotes the
implementation of corporate codes of practice which cover supply chain working
conditions

EUREPGAP: Many ETI members sought EUREPGAP (Euro-Retailer Produce


Working Group on Good Agricultural Practice) certification of good agricultural
practice by those supplying their flowers

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Fairtrade Mark 7 : Fairtrade standards cover social, environmental and economic


development. The Mark is an independent product certification label, which
guarantees that workers on flower farms are getting a better deal. Fairtrade
roses currently come from a small number of farms in Kenya and had an
estimated retail value of over 4m in 1995

Fair Flowers and Plants: This is a new international consumer label, conceived
by an alliance of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and trade unions,
which will require adherence to the International Code of Conduct for the
Production of Cut Flowers (ICCs) standards

Labels from various other flower exporting countries: These labels certify
quality and codes of conduct aspects. Some of these labels, such as the
Kenyan Flower Councils label, Colombias Florverde scheme and Zambias
Export Growers Association (ZEGA) code are becoming more recognised by
EU importers
Conclusions

Reports on social impacts for workers make reference to codes of practice on


environmental practice; however, there is little recent data in the public realm on
different environmental impacts of cut flower production. This may be because the
impact is assumed to be relatively well understood. The case study on Lake
Naivasha (Box 2 main report) provides an interesting view of how environmental
impacts on water quantity and quality, on biodiversity and impacts for neighbouring
communities inter-relate.
These inter-relations include the indirect negative
environmental impacts associated with large economic migrant populations attracted
by the employment opportunities of the cut flower industry to this sensitive area.
They also include the negative impacts for the local population as a result of the
increased demand on environmental resources and the worsening of environmental
conditions affecting other economic activities (including fishing) and on community
health (as a result of water pollution and over-abstraction), housing quality and
localised food security (as a result of declining fish stocks used for local
consumption).
An area of environmental impact receiving the most publicity is the impact that the
transport of cut flowers via airfreight has on climate change and the greenhouse
effect. Cut flowers are highly perishable products and are thus crucially dependent
on efficient and speedy distribution channels and excellent cold-chain management
systems. Air travel is particularly damaging due to the amount of fuel burnt,
composition of the fuel (kerosene) and the nature of its emission into the
atmosphere (i.e. at high altitude) In fact, the pollution and clouds produced by jet
planes have a climate impact that is nearly three times greater than the CO2 in the
fuel they burn

Fairtrade Foundation, 2006, Fairtrade Roses Q&A. www.fairtrade.org.uk [Accessed 20/06/06]

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The most robust information available is related to the social impacts on workers,
arising from studies on the effects of codes of conduct for workers. These
demonstrate that codes have been effective to some extent in improving working
conditions. However, they also identify ongoing problems that have proved harder
to address, including gendered dimensions, which are strongly evident in a
feminised employment sector. These are most fully documented in reports from a
two year research project on ethical trade in African horticulture, funded by DFID.
The findings of these studies are also acknowledged in an ETI report (2005). For
results of the primary research, see Smith et al 2004 and Tallontire et al (2004).
These studies have used qualitative research methods using triangulation to ensure
robustness. Their findings are more usable, general and build up a comparative
picture more effectively than other reports which are more country-specific or which
attempt to use semi-quantitative data, based on inadequate sample sizes (Omosa et
al). Nevertheless, all these reports provide a reasonably consistent overall picture
of an industry that has a growing understanding of the social impacts for workers,
particularly women workers, and that is identifying ways to address these impacts in
order to ensure the undoubted economic benefits, including in terms of job creation,
particularly for women, who feature strongly amongst the poorest in the societies
concerned.
The focus on worker conditions contrasts with a relative dearth of information on
wider impacts for the community health and safety, impacts on access to natural
resources and a more holistic understanding of sustainable economic benefits at a
community level.
The economic benefits are available in terms of contribution to export earnings and
to job creation, with information on earnings and staff benefits being generated as a
result of the studies on impact of codes of conduct. However, few studies appear to
have considered the economic sustainability of the industry, including in comparison
with the closely related sector of vegetable production, or other forms of export
production.
In terms of policy implications, areas of concern:

Climate change: Recent research by Cranfield University implies that less CO2
is produced by transporting cut flowers by air than growing flowers in heated
greenhouses in colder climates 8 . However, this is dependent upon a number of
assumptions, such as the energy used to heat greenhouses comes from fossil
fuels. More research on this would be useful particularly testing the robustness of
the assumptions, the potential to mitigate these impacts and how does this relate
to economic benefits for exporter countries not yet subject to limits on climate
change emissions.

Economic and social impacts: Workers, growers and codes of conduct


operators alike are in agreement that the economic benefits for national

http://www.dfid.gov.uk/news/files/Speeches/trade/hilary-valentine-speech.asp

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economies and for employees and the household/local economy must be
maintained whilst negative social impacts for workers as a result of working
conditions can and must be addressed. Codes of conduct and labelling, with
independent social and environmental auditing are increasingly effective at
addressing harmful impacts, although identified problems still remain with this
approach to mitigation. For example, consumer boycotts can threaten the
economic benefits and derived social benefits resulting from increased income
from working in the cut flower industry 9 ; the proliferation of codes can act as a
cost barrier particularly to smaller independent growers; ensuring the labelling
keeps track with the appropriate batches of flowers through the auction houses
to the retail outlets remains a challenge.

Water Use: Growing cut flowers requires significant amounts of water. How can
water use efficiency be maximised and potential conflict between growers and
other local users prevented?

DEFRA/DFID aid and investment: combined support to ensure more holistic


understanding of inter-relationship between environmental, social and economic
impacts at a local level in exporter developing countries. There is a particular
need to look more widely beyond worker employment conditions to more general
sustainability and environmental considerations, so that UK investment and aid
in developing countries achieves sustainable development at both local and
national levels.

Biodiversity - Kenya and Lake Naivasha, appear to be special cases of


production focused in areas of ecological sensitivity. However, it is also emerging
in the Ethiopian highlands and Tanzanias Mount Kilamanjaro. As the UK is a
major consumer, there is a strong case for more focus on protecting biodiversity
impacts in countries such as Kenya arising from UK consumption.

DEFRA controls the plant health passport system for flower imports. What
can be done to ensure that these requirements do not result in increased use of
pesticides harming workers and the local environment, whilst ensuring any risks
to UK biodiversity etc are adequately controlled?

Due to the feminised labour force this can disproportionately impact upon women and ultimately children

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Commodity Overview 10

1.1.1

Cut flowers fall within a wider product cluster Cut Flowers, Foliage and
Ornamental Plants. The extended cluster includes live plants used for
ornamental purposes, as well as seeds and bulbs. Only the limited product
set cut flowers and flower buds of a kind suitable for ornamental
purposes are covered in this report.

1.1.2

Cut flowers are defined as blossoms from flowering plants sold as stems,
bunches, or arrangements. The flowers can be fresh, dried, or preserved.
Major commercial varieties include standard carnations, roses,
chrysanthemums, gladioli, tulips, orchids and lilies.

1.1.3

Cut flowers are highly perishable products and can only maintain very
limited life-supporting processes by absorbing water (and nutrients) through
their stems, and are thus crucially dependent on efficient and speedy
distribution channels, and excellent cold-chain management systems. More
than 200 varieties of cut flowers are sold commercially (on their own or
along with other varieties) on the major world markets.

1.1.4

Growing cut flowers is a particularly specialised industry in terms of


knowledge requirements. To grow flowers successfully, one often has to
learn the trade over a number of years. Many flower growers learn the
trade through family businesses/farms. Added to this is the incredible
diversity in the product varieties (different species and breeds), different
types of markets, and local conditions (soil, climate, availability of labour,
finance, infrastructure, transport routes, etc.), all of which are important
elements in determining whether a particular venture or industry will be
successful. Some of the more important product characteristics of the cut
flower industry are as follows:

Flowers are very time sensitive. They have to reach their destined
markets in as short a time as possible (around four days). An
important characteristic for the end-user buyer is the length of the
flowers shelf-life (vase-life), which is strongly influenced by how
fast the flower reaches the point of final sale.

Flowers are very fragile, and need careful packaging and handling.
The proper management and handling at cutting/harvesting,
packaging and storage of flowers stages will affect the quality and
durability of the product.

Flowers are seasonal. Seasonality affects when production occurs


although hothouses can be used to mitigate this. Seasonal
peaks strongly influence demand, with certain varieties more

10

Upon reviewing this section of the report World Flowers a UK private company [http://www.worldflowers.
co.uk/] made the following comments. A) Use of methyl bromide is declining in Kenya and not
used on farms used by World Flowers. B) The casual labour has been reduced through ethical auditing
and fair trade labels. C) Waste is increasingly being recycled.

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popular in certain periods and/or for special occasions (e.g. roses
for Valentines day). Counter-seasonality is an important factor for
developing countries, as they can supply flowers to European (and
other northern) markets during the seasons domestic producers
are unable to. Even with hothouses, heating and lighting costs
might render northern countries overall costs high enough to
facilitate the entry of developing country producers on a
competitive basis.

Flowers depend on fashions and consumer tastes. The demand


for flowers is volatile and changes dramatically depending on
trends and preferences.

Flowers are income elastic. The demand for flowers increases with
increased levels of income, although this does vary by country.
Flowers are also rather price elastic and as gifts compete with
confectionary, jewellery and wine.

Flower purchase has strong emotional connotations, used to mark


significant events or as a symbol of love or other positive emotion.
This has been used by ethical consumer campaigners to persuade
consumers to pay attention to the conditions of workers involved in
cut flower production.

1.1.5

Cut flowers are grown and cut as gifts and for display in homes, offices,
public buildings and for special events and occasions. The main producers
worldwide are the Netherlands, Colombia, Kenya and Israel, all of which are
large exporters to the UK. The UKs domestic production represents about
10 15% of cut flowers sold, although there is some seasonal variation,
with increased UK production in spring and summer 11 .

1.1.6

The Netherlands is by far and away the UKs most important trading partner
in cut flowers, importing flowers worth a total of almost US$800 million in
2004. This represents 79% of all UK imports of cut flowers. The
Netherlands is a major grower of cut flowers. However, the international
auctions in the Netherlands mean that it is an important staging country for
cut flower imports from other countries worldwide.

1.1.7

After the Netherlands, the major producer countries exporting directly to the
UK in 2004 were Kenya (8%), Colombia (4%) and Spain (4%). The figures
in brackets represent % of total UK imports from each country by value in
US dollars, based on data from Comtrade.

1.1.8

Comtrade data on imports of cut flowers to the Netherlands show that


Kenya (36%), Israel (15%), Zimbabwe (9%), Ecuador (9%) and Uganda
(5%) were the major trading partners. The figures in brackets represent %

11

http://www.flowers.org/press/press-releases.htm [Accessed 14/06/02006, verified by phone call to Andrea Caldecourt,


14/06/2006]

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of total Netherlands imports from each country by value in US dollars,
based on data from Comtrade.
1.1.9

Newly developing countries importing to the UK include Ethiopia and


Uganda. Producers in Zimbabwe are reported in recent years to be
switching production to Zambia, in order to cope with the economic crisis in
Zimbabwe. Uganda is reported to be experiencing increased growth as
internal conflict has been brought under control in parts of the country.
Investment in infrastructure and establishment of daily international flights to
ensure the cold chain can be maintained are key factors influencing where
export growth happens. The production for export of perishable vegetables
may be a key indicator for future diversification into the cut flowers sector,
as a similar cold store chain and related infrastructure is necessary for
these products 12 .

1.2

Uses

1.2.1

The most popular flower purchased in the UK is the carnation. Other


popular flowers include the chrysanthemum, rose, mixed seasonal bunch,
lily, freesia, tulip, daffodil, iris and alstroemeria. However, there is
increasing diversification in the choice of flowers bought in the UK. Table 1
illustrates the main flower varieties grown in major exporting countries to the
UK.
Table 1: Main flower varieties grown in major exporting countries 13
Country
Holland
Colombia
Ecuador
Israel
Kenya
Turkey
Uganda
Zambia
Zimbabwe

Flower varieties mainly grown


All flowers
Standard & spray carnations, roses
Carnations, roses
Roses, gypsophilla, waxflower, anigozanthos, all summer
flowers
Roses, carnations, spray carnations, statice
Spray carnations
Roses, chrysanthemums, carnations, summer flowers
Roses, summer flowers
Roses, proteas, aster, solidago

Decoration
1.2.2

Cut Flowers are used for decorative purposes, as gifts, as arrangements or


bouquets for formal events or special occasions, and as corsages or
boutonnieres.

12

Telephone conversation with Andrea Caldecourt, F&PA, 14/06/06


Compiled from http://www.flowers.org.uk/industry/imported-origins.htm [Accessed 14/06/06]; http://www.new-agri.co.uk/015/focuson/focuson7.html [Accessed 20/06/2006], and Rottger, A (ed.), 2004, Strengthening farm-agribusiness linkages in
Africa. AGSF Occasional Paper 6. FAO 2004. ].
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Gifts, special events and occasions
1.2.3

The purchase of cut flowers to mark special events or occasions or as a


semi-luxury gift remains important, with Valentines Day and Mothers Day
the most significant peak days for cut flower sales. The Flower and Plants
Association sales of fresh flowers increase by 48% on average sales levels
on Valentines Day, with most imports from Colombia, Ecuador, Holland and
Kenya. Valentines Day is celebrated on the same day worldwide, therefore
over 55 million roses are traded on this one day alone 14 . Mothers Day
likewise causes a spike in cut flower sales, with sales increasing by 40% on
average sales levels. They are purchased to celebrate holidays, in times of
illness, for weddings or funerals. Demand patterns are therefore particularly
seasonal and dependent on fashions.
Own consumption

1.2.4

14

The main area of retail growth in the UK has been an increase in routine
purchase of flowers for own consumption, rather than as a gift purchase to
mark a special event or occasion. Own consumption is estimated to
represent 60% of expenditure by consumers in Britain. The supermarkets
have expanded their total sales of cut flowers by encouraging customers to
buy flowers for their own use. In a recent academic paper based on
research for a PhD, Madrid (2006) reports that the supermarkets have
increased their sales at over 30% per year. This growth is thought to mainly
arise as a result in growth in purchases for daily consumption for peoples
own use, and thus is likely to be strongly linked to peoples perceptions of
their disposable income.

http://www.flowers.org.uk/press/press-a%20rose%20is%20a%20rose-2006.htm

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Case Study CUT FLOWERS

Supply and demand statistics and trends

2.1.1

In 2004, the UK imported 202,570,764kg of cut flowers 15 from the rest of the
world. This was the equivalent of nearly $978,245,175 in terms of trade
value. Table 2 below indicates the top trading partners to the UK for that
year. The Netherlands is by far and away the UKs most important trading
partner in cut flowers, importing flowers worth a total of almost US$800
million in 2004. This represents approximately 79% of all UK imports of cut
flowers. The Netherlands is a major grower of cut flowers. However, the
international auctions in the Netherlands mean that it is an important staging
country for cut flower imports from other countries worldwide 16 . After the
Netherlands, the major producer countries exporting directly to the UK in
2004 were Kenya (8%), Colombia (4%) and Spain (4%). The figures in
brackets represent % of total UK imports from each country by value in US
dollars, based on data from Comtrade.
Table 2: The UKs top trading partners

2.1.2

Reporter

Partner

Trade Value

NetWeight (kg)

United Kingdom
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
United Kingdom

Netherlands
Kenya
Colombia
Spain
Turkey
Belgium
Italy
South Africa
Denmark

$759,256,038
$84,432,823
$45,525,850
$41,453,101
$9,273,919
$8,551,537
$4,561,211
$3,640,392
$3,586,975

156,331,666
16,984,909
9,754,190
9,394,514
3,422,994
1,049,461
507,906
803,420
627,634

If the total exports of the UKs top trading partners are examined, it is again
clear that the Netherlands comes out the highest by a significant margin,
with Columbia and Kenya again making up the highest proportion of nonOECD countries in the top 3. Noticeable in Table 3 is the fact that
Colombias global export market is over three times the value of Kenyas.

15

SITC Rev.3 code 29271 Cut flowers and flower buds of a kind suitable for bouquets or for ornament
Comtrade data on imports of cut flowers to the Netherlands show that Kenya (36%), Israel (15%), Zimbabwe (9%), Ecuador
(9%) and Uganda (5%) were the major trading partners. The figures in brackets represent % of total Netherlands imports from
each country by value in US dollars, based on data from Comtrade.
16

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Case Study CUT FLOWERS
Table 3: Top Trading Partners total exports of cut flowers

2.1.3

Reporter

Partner

Trade Value

NetWeight (kg)

Netherlands

World

$3,054,421,848

Colombia
Kenya
Italy
Spain
Belgium
South Africa
Turkey
Denmark

World
World
World
World
World
World
World
World

$703,440,520
$231,889,576
$87,435,222
$80,482,550
$69,641,501
$21,651,676
$20,170,323
$11,326,083

191,574,649
81,855,559
11,326,867
28,308,950
9,506,762
6,024,960
9,083,949
2,257,917

Taking this analysis a step further, we can assess what proportion the
export of cut flower makes up of the total exports for certain countries
(Table 4). The figures indicate that for three countries analysed, the largest
proportion of the total exports represented by cut flowers is Kenya (8.64%)
followed by Columbia (4.20%) and then the Netherlands (1.05%).
Table 4: The proportion cut flowers makes up of total exports from UK partners
Reporter
Belgium
Colombia
Denmark
Italy
Kenya
Netherlands
South Africa
Spain
Turkey

2.1.4

17

Cut flowers as a % of all exports


0.02%
4.20%
0.02%
0.02%
8.64%
1.05%
0.05%
0.04%
0.03%

Newly developing countries importing to the UK also include Ethiopia and


Uganda. Producers in Zimbabwe are reported in recent years to be
switching production to Zambia, in order to cope with the economic crisis in
Zimbabwe. Uganda is reported to be experiencing increased growth as
internal conflict has been brought under control in parts of the country.
Investment in infrastructure and establishment of daily international flights to
ensure the cold chain can be maintained are key factors influencing where
export growth happens. The production for export of perishable vegetables
may be a key indicator for future diversification into the cut flowers sector,
as a similar cold chain and related infrastructure is necessary for these
products 17 .

Telephone conversation with Andrea Caldecourt, F&PA, 14/06/06

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2.2

Major exporting countries

2.2.1

In terms of world exports, the Netherlands is by far the biggest exporter,


capturing some 56% of the world market. It must be noted, however, that
most of these exports are to the EU (over 80%). Other large European
exporters include Italy, Spain, Belgium and Germany; again, most of their
trade is intra-EU. The Latin American countries of Colombia and Ecuador
are the second- and third-biggest exporters respectively, with the majority of
their exports going to the US. Kenya, the big African exporter, is fourth, with
a 4% share in the world market, and growing faster than any of the top 10
countries.
Asian countries with rapid growth include China (25th),
Singapore (20th) and Malaysia (15th). All three feature prominently in the
Japanese market. SADC countries in the top 25 are Zimbabwe (10th), SA
(21st) and Zambia (24th).

2.2.2

Total world trade in cut flowers and foliage was about $6.5bn in 2004. Of
this, $5.5bn was trade in cut flowers, with a five-year growth rate of around
9% between 2000 and 2004, and a two-year growth rate of just over 13%.
In short, the cut flower market is a blooming industry.

2.2.3

In regard to the UKs strength as a global player in the market, Table 5


below shows the share of the world imports accountable by the UK. It can
be seen that the UK has the greatest share (in terms of value) of cut flower
imports in the world at nearly 6m in 2004.
Table 5: Top 20 importing countries of cut flowers 18

18

Importers

Annual growth
Value imported
in
value
in 2004, in US$
between 2000thousand
2004, %

Annual growth
in
value Share in world
between 2003- imports, %
2004, %

World estimation

5,544,720

13

100

United Kingdom

1,018,677

19

12

18

Germany

975,911

15

17

United
America

886,979

15

15

France

507,385

Netherlands

491,584

Japan

218,089

27

Italy

191,336

Switzerland

166,293

Belgium

132,745

14

10

Russian Federation

117,322

40

98

States

of

Source: ITC Comtrade

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2.2.4

The EU, with nearly 70%, dominates the world cut flower market when it is
segmented by region, followed by NAFTA and Asia. The UK has taken over
from Germany as the biggest national market for imports, with 18% of the
world market, followed by Germany with 17%, the US with 15%, France with
9% and the Netherlands with 8%.

2.3

Consumption trends

2.3.1

The world market for cut flowers has been growing. From 1999 to 2004,
exports of cut flowers rose by 9% and by 13% from 2003 to 2004.
According to the Flower Council of Holland (2005), consumption patterns in
cut flowers will continue to rise at a rapid rate, with global consumption
predicted to be 30% greater by 2014. At present, global trade in cut flowers
stands at roughly US$5.5-billion, of which nearly 70% is with the EU.
Table 6: Top 10 Fastest-growing importing countries 19

2.3.2

19

Importers

Share in
Value imported Annual growth in Annual growth in
world
in 2004, in US$ value
between value
between
imports,
thousand
2000-2004, %
2003-2004, %
%

World
estimation

5,544,720

13

100

Malaysia

2,978

50

155

Kazakhstan

2,907

47

39

Hungary

17,737

44

103

Cyprus

1,644

44

13

Russian
Federation

117,322

40

98

Serbia
and
5,177
Montenegro

39

Colombia

3,213

36

33

Romania

7,307

35

30

Bulgaria

2,047

33

26

10

Ukraine

10,388

24

25

Historically, the major markets (particularly in the EU) have focused


predominantly on the more standard, everyday varieties of flowers roses,
carnations, etc. However, more recently there have been some shifts in
demand patterns, with more unusual and/or speciality species (for example,
less standard roses) finding a niche. At the same time developing countries
have been able to gain a foothold in these giant markets, with countries like

Source: ITC ComTrade

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Colombia and Kenya showing the way for those hoping to emulate their
successes.
2.3.3

Part of these changing patterns of trade can be ascribed to increased


globalisation, the lowering of tariffs, and the change in consumer tastes.
However, far more important is the combined impact of advanced transport
services (refrigerated aircraft) and counter-seasonality of many of the
southern developing countries.

2.3.4

Whereas the developed northern countries historically had to rely on short


harvest/blooming periods (especially for summer flowers) and/or expensive
heating and lighting in greenhouses, many developed countries with warmer
climates have harvest periods which are not only much longer but also
coincide with the Northern hemispheres winter months. The UKs domestic
production represents about 10 15% of cut flowers sold, although there is
some seasonal variation, with increased UK production in spring and
summer 20 .
European Union

2.3.5

The EU consumes more than half of the worlds cut flowers, which makes
it an important market for any aspiring flower exporting nation. Of the 10
biggest national cut flower markets in the world, six of them are in the EU
UK, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain (in that order). The
auction markets in the Netherlands are by far the largest and most
developed in the world, and act as a meeting point for buyers and sellers
from all corners of the globe.

2.3.6

Within Europe, Germany, France and the Netherlands are considered to


have reached saturation point and even showing signs of negative growth.
The newest EU members (the 2004 accession countries) are growing
rapidly and are expected to continue to do so.

2.3.7

The UK has grown at a rapid pace, with 20% growth in imports from 2000
to 2004, effectively taking over from Germany as the leading importer of cut
flowers. The consumption level is expected to continue to rise, albeit at a
projected lower rate of 5% annually (CBI 2005).

2.3.8

In the UK, flowers are increasingly bought for own use. In 2004, 48% of all
flower purchases was for own use, compared with 38% for gifts and 8%
bought for funerals (Flower Council of Holland, 2005, referenced in CBI
2005).

20

http://www.flowers.org/press/press-releases.htm [Accessed 14/06/02006, verified by phone call to Andrea Caldecourt,


14/06/2006]

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Policies and Initiatives

3.1.1

The frameworks are those political or voluntary structures that set the
operational environment for the commodity, including trade agreements,
project financing, regulations concerning export or import of goods and
sector-specific or wider applicable national policies. The different routes for
producers and exporters to access international markets are described in
section below. Policies include international and EU legislative and nonlegislative requirements on imports, as well as measures to support UK
production of flowers.

3.2

Trade framework and agreements

3.2.1

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) In the past, the USA has pursued
anti-dumping cases against Colombia for its supply of cheap imports of
flowers against which US producers are unable to compete.

3.2.2

EU Preferential Trading Agreements cover flower imports from Colombia.


Other relevant trade agreements include the UK Investment Promotion and
Protection Agreement with Kenya.
Financing of flower production

3.2.3

Project finance through medium term loans are important to the floriculture
industry, particularly in those countries establishing themselves in the
industry, as the up-front investments costs involved are considerable.
Lenders include both international and regional development banks,
including International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank (WB) and
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and private sector banks.

3.2.4

Grants and other forms of support from international agencies have also
been important, particularly for management, technical assistance and other
support to establish and promote floriculture exports. DFID has provided
funding to Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe floriculture sectors. The US
Danish aid agencies (USAID and DANIDA respectively) are also involved.

3.2.5

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as well as the Joint


Integrated Technical Assistance Programme (JITAP), funded by
International Trade Centre, United Nations Conference of Trade and
Development (UNCTAD) and WTO have also provided technical assistance
to the industry.

3.3

Policy Framework

3.3.1

Exporting flowers and plants to the EU can be a complicated business, and


it is very important that legislative requirements (product legislation) are
taken into account. All flowers and plants are subject to phytosanitary
regulations intended to prevent the introduction of plant pests and diseases,
which are not present in the EU. Moreover, various organisations and

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representative bodies are developing environmental as well as social
standards connected to the conditions in which plants and flowers are
grown and harvested. When exporting cut flowers to the EU, a number of
legislative regulations are relevant:

3.3.2

Plant health control

CITES regulations

Breeders regulations

Quality and grading

Packaging and marking.

There are also non-legislative requirements for environmental, occupational


health and safety standards, labour conditions and other social issues, that,
though not legally required, are nevertheless vitally important for potential
exporters wishing to gain a foothold in the European markets.
Plant health (phytosanitary) legislation

3.3.3

The EU member nations are obligated to ban the introduction of harmful


organisms into their territory. As international trade in floriculture products
brings with it the risk of spreading diseases and pests, there are certain
restrictions to importing such products into the EU. The legislation
regarding these restrictions is laid down in Directive 2000/29/EC. The
harmful organisms to which this piece of legislature refers can be insects,
mites, nematodes, fungi, bacteria, viruses, or the plant/flower on which
these organisms reside (CBI, 2004).

3.3.4

The phytosanitary certificate (or plant passport) is essentially a statement


that the plants or plant produce or products to which it relates have been
officially inspected in the country of origin (or country of despatch), comply
with statutory requirements for entry into the EC, are free from certain
serious pests and diseases, and are substantially free from other harmful
organisms. Due to increased inception of various harmful organisms, the
number of cut flower varieties requiring inspection has recently increased.
Countries in the Southern African trade body (SADC) are particularly at risk
of high inspection rates due to the perceived quality of produce and to the
less-than-stringent phytosanitary and inspection procedures that take place
at the export departure points. DEFRA manages the Plant Passport regime
for imports from outside the EC to the UK. The requirements are set out in
http://www.defra.gov.uk/planth/publicat/importer/impguide.pdf
CITES regulations

3.3.5

To make provisions for the protection of endangered species of flora and


fauna, the CITES treaty restricts the international trade of specimens in
these species. These regulations currently have a limited effect on SADC
countries exports of cut flowers. However, the exportation of proteas and

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various fynbos species, as well as the growing demand for more unusual
species of cut flowers (predominantly indigenous), may expose potential
exporters to the provisions of this agreement. The lists of various prohibited
or restricted species are detailed on the CITES website under three
Appendixes, according to how threatened they are by international trade.
More information on endangered species can be found at
http://www.cites.org/.

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Breeders rights
3.3.6

The agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights


(TRIPS) within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has provided an
incentive for many countries to start implementing different forms of plant
variety protection programmes. Research and development is undertaken
to develop new varieties of flowers and to improve the performance of
existing varieties their yield, size, appearance, resistance to disease and
ability to grow under different conditions and climates.

3.3.7

Royalties or licences compensate growers and institutions making


significant investments in new plant varieties and improved performance. In
many developing economies, structures to protect breeders are still
underdeveloped. The implementation of TRIPS requires member countries
of the WTO to adhere to the protection framework standards of other
member countries. At present there are several protection frameworks for
new plant varieties in operation:

3.3.8

International level: UPOV (International Union for the Protection of


New Plant Varieties);

European level: CPVO (Community Plant Variety Office); and

Other countries: national patent registration offices.

Both UPOV and CPVO give (25-year) rights to breeders of new varieties,
allowing them to stipulate who is authorised to commercially use or sell their
particular variety (and to determine the value of royalties associated with the
use), to duplicate and distribute it, and to contend an essentially derivative
variety should they feel that it is too close to their own. Breeders can also
apply for a European trademark (CBI, 2004). For more information see
http://www.upov.int/ or http://www.cpov.fr/.
Quality and grading standards

3.3.9

The EU Regulation 316/68 prescribes minimum standards for imports to the


EU. However, for practical purposes, the VBN (Federation of Dutch Flower
Auctions) standards required to participate in the Dutch auction sales
are the more relevant industry standard 21 .

3.3.10

The Euro-retailer Produce Working Group (EUREP) developed a framework


for Good Agricultural Practice (EUREPGAP) predominantly to ensure food
safety in various production chains, including the practices of farming
flowers. It is a private standard, applicable when supplying a major
supermarket retailer, but due to increased sales volumes of flowers in
supermarket chains, it is becoming more influential. Besides these
standards, importers also have their own unwritten quality standards (with

21

For more information see http://www.vbn.nl/.

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European consumers being particularly demanding), and might often be
biased against products originating from developing countries, assuming
inferior or unprofessional production processes. The ISO 9001 quality
assurance system, a highly regarded qualification developed by the
International Organisation for Standardisation, is an important means of
overcoming these reservations. For companies that comply with their
guidelines, ISO issues certificates and allows the use of its logo on products
(CBI, 2004) 22 .
Packaging and marking
3.3.11

EU Regulation 802/71 stipulates minimum standards for the packaging and


presentation of cut flowers. The type and quality of packaging will depend
on the product type, the transport needs and the individual wishes of the
importer concerned. Clearly certain minimum requirements are needed to
protect the flowers from damage and thus it is an important component of
the strict quality demands.
UK Support for domestic flower production

3.3.12

The UK Government, in recognition of the UK horticulture sectors


characteristics as relatively energy intensive, containing a large number of
smaller companies and exposed to significant international competition, has
developed a special package of measures for horticulturists, including
flower growers, to improve energy efficiency in the sector. The assistance
package includes 23 :

A special allocation for the sector from the energy efficiency fund to
provide site specific advice;

Inclusion of thermal screens in the list of technologies qualifying for


enhanced capital allowances. Thermal screens are panels used to
reduce the volume of a building to be heated during cold periods
and are used in greenhouses;

A temporary 50% discount on the levy for a period of up to five


years. This is intended to give the sector some relief while
anticipated energy efficiency measures take effect; and

Some horticulturists may also benefit from the exemption from the
levy for energy from good quality Combined Heat and Power plants
(CHP).

Environmental, social and safety standards


3.3.13

The environmental, social and safety aspects of products and production


have gained increasing attention both in producer countries and in

22

See http://www.iso.org/.

23

Source: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/ccl/intro.htm [Accessed 19/06/06]

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consumer countries, particularly within Europe and the United States, with
greater legislation put in place, engagement by UK supermarkets concerned
about their supply chains and significant consumer movements. A number
of organisations control and regulate these matters:

24

Floriculture Environment Programme or Milieu Project


Sierteelt (MPS): A Dutch environmental code with an optional
social chapter, which assesses and certifies its participants
environmental performance and links with other quality standards
(ISO 9001, GAP and by implication, ETI). It is currently the most
widely accepted environmental standard, with 85% of flowers in
Dutch auctions certified under this programme and importers being
predisposed to products from companies registered under MPS (it
is a business-to-business label). See http://www.st-mps.nl/.

International Flower Co-ordination (IFC) and Flower Label


Programme (FLP): Unlike the MPS, this programme labels
products based on human rights and environmental standards, with
an International Code of Conduct for Cut Flowers (ICC). The
programme covers working conditions, child/forced labour, freedom
of association, employment contracts, and health and safety
standards. To date, the FLP has been used for labelling flowers
sold in Germany, although there are plans to roll out to other
European countries. For more information on this label and its
requirements, see http://www.flower-labelprogramm.org/.

Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI): The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)


is an alliance of companies, non-governmental organisations
(NGOs) and trade union organisations. It has developed its own
base code and it also promotes the implementation of corporate
codes of practice which cover supply chain working conditions. Its
main focus is on towards achievement of international standards of
working conditions for workers producing for the UK market. For
more information, see http://www.ethicaltrade.org/.

EUREPGAP: Many ETI members sought EUREPGAP (EuroRetailer Produce Working Group on Good Agricultural Practice)
certification of good agricultural practice by those supplying their
flowers. EUREPGAP members have a set of standards for
horticulture producers.
Following involvement with ETI, the
EUREPGAP committee have decided not to expand the worker
welfare section of the flowers protocol to avoid confusion with other
auditing and labelling initiatives (ETI, 2005). For more information,
see http://www.eurep.org

Fairtrade Mark 24 : Fairtrade standards cover social, environmental


and economic development. The Mark is an independent product

Fairtrade Foundation, 2006, Fairtrade Roses Q&A. www.fairtrade.org.uk [Accessed 20/06/06]

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certification label which guarantees that workers on flower farms
are getting a better deal. Fairtrade roses currently come from a
small number of farmers in Kenya and had an estimated retail
value of over 4m in 1995.
For more information, see
http://www.fairtrade.org.uk

Fair Flowers and Plants: This is a new international consumer


label, conceived by an alliance of non-governmental organisations
(NGOs) and trade unions, which will require adherence to the
International Code of Conduct for the Production of Cut Flowers
(ICCs) standards. The ICCs standards include labour and
working standards (adapted from the International Labour
Organisation, or ILO), health and social issues, the use of
pesticides and chemicals, and environmental protection standards
(sustainability, water and energy, waste and pollution).

Labels from various other flower exporting countries: These


labels certify quality and codes of conduct aspects. Some of these
labels, such as the Kenyan Flower Councils label, Colombias
Florverde scheme and Zambias Export Growers Association
(ZEGA) code are becoming more recognised by EU importers
(CBI, 2004; Tallontire et al, 2004)).

3.3.14

The lack of code harmonisation has been identified as creating duplication


of work and hence, additional costs for growers. These problems have
been identified by industry bodies, auditors, growers and workers alike.

3.3.15

Workers and auditors also identified other problems with the existing
auditing systems, summarised in Box 1 below:
Box 1: Problems with codes of conduct for cut flower production1
Worker identified shortfalls of Codes of Conduct
(from research in Kenya) (ETI, 2005: 11)
No advance awareness-raising with workers so they are unfamiliar with nature and purpose
of audit
Workers unaware of their rights or entitlements
Very few workers selected for worker interviews
Workers interviewed in presence of management
Poor contact between auditors and trade unions and local NGO representatives
Auditors shown only selected areas of farm or housing facilities
Workers/site prepared for audit
Seasonal and casual contract workers not interviewed for audit
Audits not conducted at peak season, when worst problems arise
Audit results not shared with worker representatives
Workers not engage in follow-up action or implementation of recommendations after audits
Auditor-identified shortfalls of Codes of Conduct
(from research in Kenya)
Too few female auditors, when most workers are female
Gender issues not sufficiently understood by auditors
Use of overseas auditors unfamiliar with local language or customs
Use of auditors with technical or environmental rather than social qualifications.

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Supply Chain analysis.

4.1.1

This section explores the characteristics of the different stages of production


and processing of cut flowers. The supply chain analysis focuses on two
areas, a general description of the supply chain, followed by country specific
information for this commodity. For cut flowers, the stages of production
can be split into:
Pre-cultivation - Farm establishment

4.1.2

Cultivation (Production and harvesting)

Processing and Transportation

Distribution

For each of these stages a flow diagram is provided which shows the key
inputs and main impacts of each stage of the supply chain. A commentary
is also provided along with country specific information. Figure 1 below
provides an overview of the supply chain for cut flowers.

Figure 1: Supply chain overview for cut flowers

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4.2

Pre-cultivation

Figure 2: Inputs and outputs for cut flower pre-cultivation

4.2.1

Land suitable for cut flower production is essential, with access to good
quality water for production. Climate and seasonality are important
determinants in the decision on the selection of varieties for production.

4.2.2

The availability of a plentiful and cheap labour force has acted as a major
advantage for producers in developing countries seeking to compete with
established European producers. Skilled and experienced personnel are
also required, who are often, at least initially, predominantly expatriate staff
in developing countries. Increases in labour costs, such as in Colombia as
a result of successful unionisation and demand for improved wages and
benefits, are seen as potentially reducing the competitiveness of producers
compared with new competitors (Madrid, 2006)

4.2.3

Flowers can either be grown in open fields or in a protected environment


(tunnels or greenhouses).
Open field cultivation is often used for
indigenous varieties, or for more robust flowers cost being the obvious
advantage but also shorter (and easier) set-up times. Open field
cultivation is much more feasible for southern or warmer regions with more
suitable climates.

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4.2.4

The environment is essential to achievement of quality products. Protection


from wind, rain, sun, pests and diseases are important for successful flower
growing. Worldwide, most flowering plants are grown under cover or in
some form of protected environment, such as greenhouses. Greenhouses
also enable more efficient water use and other means of manipulating plant
growth with sensors installed in or around plants in greenhouses, the
timing and dosage of watering, lighting, heating and fertilising allow for
shorter production cycles. Hothouses are used to extend harvest periods,
although heating and lighting costs are often prohibitive. Hydroponic
production systems are also becoming more common.

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4.3

Cultivation

Figure 3: Production and harvesting inputs and outputs

Farm Inputs and Maintenance


4.3.1

Soil type, including minerals and nutrients content, pH level and other
variables and water nutrient levels are important inputs to flower production.
Fertilisers and other inputs are used to achieve optimal soil and nutrient
conditions.

4.3.2

Irrigation is crucial to flower growing. A report entitled Investing in


Ugandas Floriculture Industry identified that ~60,000litres/hectare/day is
needed.

4.3.3

Water quality (pH levels or hardness of the water, and whether it is filtered
or chlorinated), irrigation techniques (overhead or drip irrigation), and
drainage/run-off all require careful management. Hydration, including
fogging and spraying, is used to protect cold-sensitive plants from frost. In
hot weather, plants are irrigated in the early morning or late evening to limit
evaporation. In greenhouses, automated ventilation and humidification help
to achieve optimal growing conditions.

4.3.4

Fertiliser is another vitally important component in the growing process, with


both artificial and organic types available.

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4.3.5

Fungicides are a key input for control of pests and diseases, both to reduce
crop loss and to ensure compliance with EC requirements for plant health
standards. Methyl bromide - which is a powerful soil fumigant - is being
phased out under an international protocol to safeguard the ozone layer
(methyl bromide is on the list of banned ozone-depleting substances of the
Montreal Protocol). Developing countries have agreed to phase out methyl
bromide by 2015, with its use frozen at 1998 rates in the meantime.
Integrated pest management systems provide an alternative for methyl
bromide. The choice of chemicals or disinfestations techniques used can
determine whether a grower is able to sell his/her produce on the world
markets, particularly to European markets).

4.3.6

Herbicides are used to control weeds. The use of registered herbicides can
be important to ensure compliance either with national regulations or with
international environmental codes of production.

4.3.7

The labour-intensive nature of plant production, with many tasks involved in


successful planting, grooming, pruning and cutting, which cannot easily be
mechanised, requires the input of a large manual labour force. The tasks
involved require high levels of dexterity, concentration and decision-making.
Tasks include bed preparation, planting, spraying of pesticides and
irrigation, disbudding, training the plants growth direction, weeding,
cultivation, mulching, pruning, and cutting the flowers.

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4.4

Processing

Figure 4: Processing inputs and outputs

Post-harvest handling
4.4.1

Labour inputs are key to the post-harvest process. The tasks involved
after cutting flowers include classifying, packing and labelling. Again, these
tasks require high levels of dexterity, concentration and decision-making.
The seasonal peaks in demand can result in round-the-clock demand for
labour in the packing and grading houses.

4.4.2

Cut flowers are highly perishable and their shelf life depends on careful
handling. Upon harvesting, flower stems are immediately placed in
lukewarm water containing a floral preservative (a solution of sugar, other
nutrients and a bacteriacide). The cut flowers and greens are then stored in
coolers overnight for later classifying, or they can be left outside in a cool
location.

4.4.3

Different varieties of flowers need to be harvested at different opening or


ripening stages, also dependent on market demands, and packaged
differently. One of the most important elements is an efficient and unbroken
cold chain system. Incorrect harvesting, packaging or storage can lead to

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flower senescence (looking older), wilting, leaf yellowing or shattering (loss
of leaves/petals).
4.4.4

In country storage is usually maintained in refrigerated storage warehouses.


The infrastructure of roads, cold storage facility, and refrigerated trucks and
shipping containers is essential in developing countries producing cut
flowers for export. Refrigerated aircraft ship flowers from international
locations. For developing countries exporting to Europe, the availability of
regular (ideally daily) international scheduled flights can be a crucial factor
in the viability and competitiveness of the sector in the international trade.

4.5

Trading and Distribution

4.5.1

There are four main routes for growers and exporters to access international
markets: directly through auctions, using an agent to sell your produce at an
auction, via an import wholesaler, or directly to a retail chain.
Auctions

4.5.2

All types of flowers are sold at the international auctions. The Dutch
auctions are very important for supply of cut flowers to the UK. By
concentrating demand and supply forces, they act as a price-setting
mechanism Flowers are sold at the market price with secure payment. The
auctions tend to work with larger producers of the mass-produced
greenhouse varieties. Suppliers need a licence that stipulates a particular
variety to be supplied over a specific time period to the auction.
Auction via agent

4.5.3

Via an import wholesaler Agents are able to take on responsibility for roles
such as re-hydrating, packing and transferring the flowers from the airport to
the auctions for supply to the auctions, as well as providing a consultancy
and marketing information role on behalf of exporters without representation
in the Netherlands. They can also play a role in facilitating relationships
between growers and supermarket chains or foreign importers. Agents are
often more suited to smaller producers with less knowledge and/or
marketing ability.
Via an import wholesaler

4.5.4

Import wholesalers provide an alternative to the auctions, sourcing the


particular products they require without long-term contracts.
Risks
associated with import wholesalers include quality claims, volatile demand
and payment issues. Overall the wholesaler function is becoming more
important and more concentrated, as these companies achieve
multinational scale, supplying all the major world flower auctions, in part
strengthened by growth in online e-commerce.

Directly to a retail chain

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4.5.5

More and more retail chains, including supermarkets, DIY department


stores and garden centres purchase flowers directly from growers,
bypassing the auctions, agents and wholesalers altogether. In the UK, the
major supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons, Asda, Marks &
Spencer) have increased their structural share of the market. Their
purchasing power and capacity enables them to co-ordinate transportation
and other logistics and set up supply chains. Their direct link to retailers
also enables them to play a much more influential role in terms of
environmental and social conditions of production of flowers along their
supply chain. The commercialisation of flowers in ready-made mixed
bouquets for sale in supermarkets and other retail outlets assembled in
producer countries also offers further opportunities for economic benefits to
these countries.

4.6

Country specific information


Kenya 25 26

4.6.1

Kenya is the largest supplier to the UK after the Netherlands. It has


experienced rapid growth and is a major foreign exchange earner for the
country, accounting for nearly 9% of Kenyas total export earnings.
Horticultural trade policy is mainly driven by grower and exporter interests
and government pursuit of foreign exchange and currently does not cover
workers labour rights. The main stakeholders in the Kenyan cut flower
industry are illustrated in figure 5

25

Compiled from Omosa et al (2005), Opondo (date unknown?) and Thoen et al (forthcoming)
Upon reviewing this section of the report World Flowers a UK private company [http://www.world-flowers.co.uk/] made the
following comments. A) Use of methyl bromide is declining in Kenya and not used on farms used by World Flowers. B) The
casual labour has been reduced through ethical auditing and fair trade labels. C) Waste is increasingly being recycled.
26

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Figure 5: Main stakeholders in Kenyan flower industry 27

KENYA
LOCAL COMMUITIIES
WORKERS
HOUSEHOLDS
WORKERS:
Female/male
Permanent
Seasonal

CIVIL SOCIETY:
NGOs (KEWWO, KHRC,
WRA);
Trade unions (KPAWU);
Media; Researchers;
Environmental groups

EXTERNAL ACTORS:
Code setting bodies (MPS, FLP etc)
Donors (DFID, USAID, Royal Netherlands
Embassy. Academics, WTO, COMESA,
International NGOs (ETI etc)

PRIVATE SECTOR:
(KFC, FPEAK, AEA,
HEBI etc)

EXPORTERS
orters

RETAILERS

PRODUCER
COMPANIES

IMPORTERS/
Overseas
buyers
Dutch Flower
Auction
UK Multiples etc

Code adopters &


non-adopters
Owner/managers

CONSUMERS

PUBLIC SECTOR:
Ministries: Agriculture (HCDA, Kenya Agricultural
Research Institute); Trade & Industry; Labour
Directorate of Health and Safety Services; Environment
& Natural Resources. Export Promotion Council.
Pest Control Products Board, Kenyan Bureau of
Standards, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services.

4.6.2

Flower production is largely concentrated around Lake Naivasha, to the


north-west of Nairobi. The industry is labour-intensive and is the source of
direct employment for 100, 000 people and indirectly for a further 2 million,
via auxiliary industries and related economic activities. There are around
500 commercial flower growers in Kenya. However, approximately 75% of
Kenyas cut flower exports are grown by about two dozen large and medium
scale producers. Such operations range in size from 20 to over 100
hectares, with workforces of between 250 and 6000 (Thoen et al,
forthcoming). Much of the remaining flower production is by smallholders in
open plots of less than half a hectare. These growers face challenges in
quality of production, adding further difficulties to the considerable
infrastructural problems of linking smallholders to export markets.

4.6.3

As discussed above, by far the greatest proportion of Kenyan flower exports


go to markets in Europe. In the UK, the major supermarkets have simplified
their horticultural supply chains by establishing direct links with producers.
Although supermarkets continue to buy flowers through the Dutch auctions,
direct trade with growers or their import agents has gained considerable
importance over recent years.

4.6.4

Kenyas flower industry has traditionally exported carnations and roses but
the need to maintain profitability has encouraged many growers to diversify
into other flower crops and value adding services such as packaging flowers
directly for supermarket shelves.
Uganda 28

27

Source: Omosa et al (2005) The Social Impact Of Codes Of Practice On The Cut Flower Industry In Kenya Final Report
August 2005. Unesco/Unitwin Chair University Of Nairobi.

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4.6.5

Uganda is a newly emergent country in terms of cut flower production, first


established in 1993. However, it has expanded rapidly in terms of number
of farms, area of output, employment and export of flowers. Flower exports
accounted for 2.82 % of total export earnings in 2000. The key players are
mainly exporters who are flower producers selling in local and international
markets. High entry and operation costs pose a barrier to smallholder
farmers and smaller companies. The Uganda Floriculture Association
(UFA) was created to bring together all flower producers and dealers and to
promote floricultural production.
Project financing and grants from
international agencies have been important to the establishment of the
industry. An Ugandan Flower Exporters Association (UFEA) publication to
promote investment in the industry identifies its competitive advantages in
terms of affordable land, climatic conditions, reliable water supply around
Lake Victoria, availability of imported inputs as well as abundant affordable
human resources, with investment in developing skilled expertise and
technical support as well as established international flights and
infrastructure to maintain the chill chain needed for successful production
and export. Roses are the main flower grown in Uganda. As in Kenya, it is
a female-dominated industry, with 75% women employees.
Zimbabwe 29

4.6.6

Zimbabwe has a total land area of over 39 million hectares, of which 33.3
million hectares are used for agricultural purposes. Horticultural crops ranks
sixth amongst the important cash crops contributing to foreign exchange
earnings, with the EU as its main export market. Three main policy
frameworks affecting agriculture performance in Zimbabwe in the past two
decades include the growth with equity programme, which sought to
redress the colonial legacy in favour of communal farmers; structural
adjustment market-oriented reforms adopted in 1991 and the fast track
land resettlement and redistribution started in 2000. Zimbabwe has
undertaken trade liberalisation and is a member of the WTO, the ACP-EU
Cotonou Agreement and regional trade arrangements. Current diplomatic
rows with the EU have culminated in the imposition of sanctions, which are
considered likely to result in a serious deterioration in export market access
for the countrys products. The severe economic crisis experienced in
Zimbabwe in the past 3-4 years has resulted from shocks to agriculture, in
the form of land invasions, bad rainfall patterns and poor economic
management, combined with policy credibility problems. Until the land
invasions, horticulture was growing as an export product. The withdrawal of
several airlines from Zimbabwe has affected the industrys growth. The
floriculture sub-sector has however been amongst the least affected by the
economic crisis, primarily because it is capital intensive and growers are

28

Compiled from UFEA (2000?) Investing in Ugandas Floriculture Industry. Uganda Flower Exporters Association and
Dannson et al, 2004, Strengthening farm-agribusiness linkages in Africa: Summary results of five country studies in Ghana,
Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa. AGSF Occasional Paper 6. FAO, Rome.
29
Mostly drawn from Tekere, M., 2005, Zimbabwe. FAO, produced by Trade and Development Studies Centre, Harare,
Zimbabwe. http://www.fao.org//docrep/005/y4632e/y4632e0y.htm [Accessed 19/06/2006], with additional information from
telephone conversation with Andrea Caldecourt, F&PA, 14/06/06

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less able to switch to alternative production. Whilst commercial growers
have increasingly switched to cash crops away from cereal crops, which is
likely to have included switches to flower growing, on land seized,
commercial production has switched to subsistence production. This has
particularly been the case in land most suitable for horticulture production,
close to towns. It is also reported that flower producers in Zimbabwe have
switched production to neighbouring Zambia.
Little more detailed
information on flower production in Zimbabwe has been identified, despite
its relative significance to the countrys export earnings.
Zambia 30
4.6.7

Zambian cut flower production, mainly of roses, is closely tied to production


of vegetables. It is not always evident whether figures quoted also include
vegetable production, as well as flower production. The most clearly
disaggregated data is provided in a Natural Resources Institute report. This
identified overall horticultural sales from Zambia as worth US$55 million in
2001/2002, compared with US$68.5 in 2000/2001, with the fall resulting
from a drought, which affected vegetable production more than flower
production. Area under production totalled 195 ha in 2001. Production of
roses is concentrated around Lusaka. Zambia is reported to have just 22
flower farms of commercial scale (NZTT, direct communication 2003,
reported in Smith et al, 2004). The majority of production is exported to
Europe, mostly via the Holland auctions.

4.6.8

The horticulture industry employs almost 10,000 people (Tallontire et al,


2004) although in 2001, it employed over 12, 000 people. The decline was
reportedly due to drought.

4.6.9

In 2005, a trip to investigate growth options in the cut flower export sector
was undertaken by the Southern Africa Trade Hub, together with USAID.
This identified weaknesses in sector financing, cold chain infrastructure
and the recent loss of the weekly British Airways cargo flight, which had
carried 40mt of cut flowers and fresh vegetables to Europe. This recent
news had attracted local concerns of export losses and job cuts. However,
this was regarded as a temporary problem, whereas the major constraint
was identified to be the limited volume of air cargo shipped to and from
Zambia. HIV/AIDS workplace programmes for the horticulture export sector
were seen as a pre-condition for market entry and a fundamental matter for
trade competitiveness. It is anecdotally reported that Zambia may have
benefited to some extent from growers operating in Zimbabwe switching
production to Zambia, in response to the economic crisis in Zimbabwe 31 .
Colombia

30

Compiled from Sikazwe, D., 2001, Zambian flower exports set to soar? New Agriculturist. http://www.new-agri.co.uk/015/focuson/focuson7/html [Accessed 20/06/2006] and CARANA Corporation, 2005, Southern Africa Global Competitiveness
Hub Trip Report Value Chain Support to the Floriculture Export Sector in Zambia and Horticulture Marketing Firms in South
Africa. USAID
31
Telephone conversation with Andrea Caldecourt, F&PA, 14/06/06

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4.6.10

In 2005 Colombia exported US $ 899,9 million, 80% of these to the USA,


followed by the UK buying US $37 millions worth of flowers. Cut flower
production in Colombia has been promoted by the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB), with the state providing low interest
credit and tax and tariff advantages. Production is concentrated around the
capital Bogot, near to the international airport for export. There are
approx. 500 companies producing on 4900 hectares. The industry employs
an estimated 80-90, 000 people directly and 5 -8000 indirectly, mainly in
packaging and transportation. The labour force is estimated to be 65%
female. Migrant labour forms a significant part of the labour force - both
voluntary migration, by workers seeking alternatives to agricultural
livelihoods and landlessness, and involuntary, following displacement by
political violence. Family-owned plantations have increasingly become
concentrated into smaller ownership. The US multinational Dole is reported
to own 25% of the producing companies (Mellon, 2004:2).
Robustness commentary

4.6.11

The background information on the main countries being investigated varies


in its reliability. The information relies on secondary data from a mix of
academic papers, campaigning organisations and industry and code of
conduct bodies, identified via web searches. It has proved hard to access
information for certain countries, particularly for Zimbabwe, Zambia and
Ecuador. This is likely to reflect the immaturity of the sector in Zambia, the
economic crisis in Zimbabwe and weaker leaks with Ecuador. It is likely that
more information on Colombia and Ecuador is available via US sources,
with which the researchers are less familiar. Academic papers on the cut
flower sector appear to rely on personal communications, for example with
export associations, to identify even key factual information, such as the
scale of the industry. A number of more generic factors are considered
likely to impede availability of robust data on the sector:

The close relationship with vegetable production and tendency to


group these together as horticultural production

Inconsistent classification of cut flowers at a country level, as an


explicit category of agriculture or as a non-edible product

The relatively small areas of production involved in flower


production compared with other types of land use, including other
forms of horticultural production

Grower and industry body concerns about putting information in the


public domain, shared by workers who are concerned about the
risks of consumer boycotts of products affecting jobs. This fear
appears to be well-founded, since a number of western NGOs and
environmental publications have promoted consumer actions to
avoid purchase of cut flowers imported from Kenya and other
countries on the grounds of environmental and/or social issues (air

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miles climate change; negative social impacts for workers; water
use in drought-ridden countries) 32

Impact Assessment.

5.1.1

The impact for each stage of the supply chain for cut flowers imported to the
UK is described, with the focus mainly on impacts in countries of production.
The assessment mainly draws on information based on studies in Kenya
and Colombia, due to the greater availability of such information. Where
possible, likely implications in other producer countries and for the overall
sector are identified.
For each lifecycle stage, assumptions and
uncertainties that affect robustness are briefly identified. The definition of
environment for this study captures social and economic impacts.

5.1.2

The production and packing stages of cut flower production involve a


number of stages which are more detailed in terms of the tasks allocated to
workers. However, the social and economic impacts associated with cut
flower production have mainly been addressed overall, rather than broken
down in relation to the different stages and tasks. The most labour intensive
stages are identified as production and pack-house/grading. Other work
sections identified include spraying, irrigation & fertilisation, maintenance,
harvesting, office, trial/experimental and kitchen/welfare. For the purposes
of this study, these are addressed under production.

5.2

Pre-cultivation: Farm Establishment


Landscape impact

5.2.1

In Colombia, the landscape in the mountain plateau, on which Bogota lies


2600 m above sea level, has dramatically changed as a result of the
amount of plastic used for the greenhouses. The increasing use of
greenhouses in developing countries producing for export, where quality
control and measures to intensify production are paramount to
competitiveness, it is likely that similar landscape impacts will be felt. The
effects are likely to be particularly significant in areas of cultural heritage,
ecological significance or tourist areas.

Land use impact for local peoples access to natural resources


5.2.2

The requirement for a plentiful supply of water as well good transport links
to grow and transport flowers means that plantations or farms are likely to
be located in areas of high population density and hence compete with
demand for land for housing or agricultural uses. Additionally, in areas of
ecological sensitivity, such as Lake Naivasha in Kenya, it is possible that

32

For example, see http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefing_notes/50_climate_top_tips.pdf [Accessed 21/06/06] and


http://www.theecologist.org/archive_detail.asp?content_id=230 ([Accessed 21/06/06

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pollution or water abstraction could result in indirect impacts for local
peoples access to natural resources, such as fish or plants gathered for
subsistence or economic purposes. It has proved difficult to identify
information on such impacts. One case referenced is of the Okiek people
being moved off land in the Tinet Forest of Olenguruone to make way for a
new flower farm (Hargreaves-Allen, 2003).
5.2.3

Because of the need to minimise journey times between packing-plant and


air terminal, the most favoured areas for development of cut flower
cultivation - particularly entrepreneurial, private-individual developments are on the fringes of principal cities, often where rural immigrants have
established unofficial settlements and squats. The competition will be
particularly marked in places where there is prized access to water supplies.
Inevitably, the squatters are evicted, regardless of any rights to occupancy
of the land that may have been established over time. Thereafter,
subsequent to the primary social effects, there are inevitable, spillover,
environmental impacts of displaced communities moving on to further, and
unstructured settlements. Such impacts do not appear in official statistics.
Improvement/mitigation options

5.2.4

Impact assessments prior to establishment of farms provide a potential way


to identify risks and identify mitigation measures. Where indigenous
peoples are affected, national and international laws to protect their rights
should be respected. Measures to reduce pollution and environmental
impacts are likely to reduce impacts on peoples access to natural
resources. Where these contribute significantly to livelihoods and food
security, their involvement in design of improvement or mitigation measures
would improve the appropriateness of solutions. No examples have been
identified of social and environmental impact assessments being
undertaken prior to establishment or expansion of cut flower farms.

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Case Study: Lake Naivasha


The case study of Lake Naivasha in Kenya in the principal floriculture area of Kenya shows
the inter-related impacts on flower production on water quantity and quality, biodiversity,
other economic activities and access to water and for neighbouring communities.
Lake Naivasha supplies water to an estimated 75% of the flower farms in Kenya. The lake is the
only freshwater ecosystem in the Eastern Rift valley. It was designated as a RAMSAR site in
1995. The Lake and its surrounds are fragile with dynamic ecosystems and a yet uncertain water
balance in a basin surrounded by intensively irrigated agricultural land and a fast growing
township.
It is unusual that such intensive farming is carried out within a Ramsar Site, utilizing the lakes
fresh water for irrigation. Water is mainly pumped directly from the lake although borehole water
is also used. Increasing human pressures are the major threat to Lake Naivasha.
The overuse of water by irrigation farms around the Lake has contributed to the decrease in water
volume, as rainfall has not been reliable around the Lake. A heavy rainfall event in 2000
reportedly resulted in fertilisers and other chemicals being washed into the lake, causing
eutrophication, and subsequent death of fish and fish-feeding birds. Environmental groups at a
Kenya Human Rights Commission conference in 2002 reported that local hippo populations were
under threat (FAO, 2002). This claim is supported by evidence in the Ramsar information report
for the Lake.
The industry also indirectly contributes to demands on the lake and pollution of the water from the
growing population living in townships whose growth has been generated by migrant labour
seeking work on the flower farms.
Employee residential areas constructed by the
floriculture/horticulture firms contribute to demand for water from the lake. Additionally,
approximately 40,000 more local workers work within the Ramsar Site during the day, mainly in
floriculture, but have their homes outside the area, within a 1 or 2 km distance from the Ramsar
site.
The lake supports a productive fishery that is conducted for both domestic and commercial
purposes. Commercial fishery makes an annual production of 75 tonnes valued at Kshs 2.5
million. The Lake also supports tourism and geothermal power generation from deep-rooted
stream jets among other economic activities. These other economic activities, including fisheries
and tourism are potentially threatened by the impacts of the flower farms on the Lake.
Improvement/mitigation measures adopted
A water management plan for Naivasha Lake, which includes the concept of sustainable
development, wise use of scarce resources and voluntarily adopted codes of conduct.
Mitigation measures adopted in relation to the flower industry include use of safe, degradable
pesticides, as per the guidelines of the Lake Naivasha Growers Group and Kenya Flower
Council Codes of Conduct (ongoing), affected through farm audits. Additional mitigation
measures identified but not yet implemented include:
Control of water uptake, first by getting to know how much is abstracted from the lake,
rivers and aquifer, and by working closely with the Water Dept.
Minimizing fertilizer use (promoting organic farming, composting, crop rotation)
Promoting proper urban planning and development on the part of the Municipal council,
as relates to solid waste management, water supply and sewerage, and storm water.
The Fairtrade premium from sale of fair-trade roses has supported projects to drill boreholes in
local villages to supply water. The Fairtrade Foundation report that Fairtrade certified farms have
initiated building and refurbishment programmes to increase and improve the quality of housing
stock. However, it is not clear if this includes measures to address issues of water supply and
pollution.

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Air pollution and climate change
5.2.5

Methyl bromide is a broad-spectrum fumigant used worldwide for the control


of soil borne pests. When used as a soil fumigant, methyl bromide gas is
usually applied to the soil before the crop is planted and the soil is then
covered with plastic tarps. The treatment effectively kills various soil
organisms, but once the tarps are removed, part of the gas will eventually
enter the atmosphere. The presence of bromine in the atmosphere is
significant due to its strong ozone-depleting action. For this reason methyl
bromide use will be reduced and phased out completely by the end of the
year 2015.

5.3

Cultivation: Cut Flower Production and Harvesting


(Estate/Small Outgrower)

5.3.1

Chemical inputs (fertilizer, weed-killer, pesticide) campaigners against


the cut flower industry make various claims about the use of chemical
inputs, for example that the Colombian flower industry uses 200 kg of
pesticides for each hectare of flowers under cultivation, that Ecuadorian
rose producers typically use six fungicides, four insecticides, three
nematicides and several herbicides (Hargreaves-Allen, 2003).

5.3.2

In addition to the liberal use of a cocktail of chemical inputs, there are claims
that many of the chemicals used are unregulated. The use of methyl
bromide is identified as contributing to problems of greenhouse gas
emissions, thus contributing to climate change. It is claimed that Kenya
spends up to 5% of its foreign exchange earnings on methyl bromide
(Hargreaves-Allen, 2003).

5.3.3

Poor handling of chemicals in the cut flower industry is reported to lead to


poisoned waterways and groundwater and subsoil pollution (HargreavesAllen, 2003).

5.3.4

Exposure to chemicals is identified in academic papers on the social


impacts of the cut flower industry as one of the major concerns raised in
worker interviews. These impacts are addressed in more detail in relation to
the impacts for health of workers (Smith et al, 2004). However, the findings
of these more robust reports would appear to lend credibility to the claimed
environmental impacts resulting from the use of chemicals in cut flower
production.

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Improvement/mitigation measures
5.3.5

In Colombia, the Flor Verde code of conduct of the employers association


Asocolflores reported that the use of active ingredients of pesticides per
year per hectare has been reduced in their pilot farms to 115 kg 33 .

5.3.6

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach has been promoted as an


alternative to use of methyl bromide. FAO and UNEP have developed an
extension trainer of trainers to train extension workers and other agents who
work closely with farmers using methyl bromide to adopt IPM as an
alternative.
Water use, pollution and biodiversity impacts

5.3.7

Abstraction of water for irrigation for cut flower production can affect
groundwater levels and water levels in surface water supplies in areas of
production, with consequent effects on the landscape, on water supplies for
neighbouring communities and on biodiversity. Serious water pollution can
result from the use of surface water (e.g. from lakes and rivers) for irrigation
of cut flowers. Excessive irrigation can lead to salinisation, because salts
contained in irrigation water accumulate in the soil as the water evaporates
or is used by plants. Plants can tolerate salt in limited concentrations, but
heavy soil deposits can make land infertile. The excessive use of fertilisers
and other chemicals can result in eutrophication of water supplies.

5.3.8

The biggest infrastructure impact of cut flower cultivation is in the use of


plastic. Under tropical sun, the light-transmission of ordinary polyethylene
film is more than good enough to allow its use to cover crops (glass is not
popular, it is expensive and where used it is not unusual to have to have
black-net shading installed inside the house in order to cool the environment
and prevent crop scorching). Unfortunately, plastic usually lasts just 2
seasons, 3 at most depending on the weather. Cut flower cultivation in
developing countries can be a significant producer of waste plastic,
therefore. In developed economies there are usually regulations governing
its disposal, as well as its original specification for biodegradability, for
example. This is not usually the case in the countries under focus in this
paper.
Improvement/mitigation measures

5.3.9

Wider management plans, which cover all flower producers, as well as other
sources of water abstraction and water pollution, are an important way to
ensure impacts are addressed in an integrated way.

5.3.10

Measures to make efficient use of water can reduce impacts on


groundwater supplies and water pollution. The collection and re-use of
used water is one way to save water. Drip irrigation is another technique to

33

Reported on FIAN website http://www.fian.de/fian/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=177&Itemid=50 [Accessed


21/06/06]

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achieve improved irrigation efficiency. This can be particularly important in
arid and semiarid regions. Soil salinisation is also less of a threat when
reducing the amount of water consumed. Purification and re-use of water
which is polluted during the cultivation of flowers and plants can minimise
water pollution.
Air pollution
5.3.11

Air pollution is likely to be an impact, particularly as a result of fumicide and


pesticide spray application. (more info needed). The impacts on human
health of exposure to chemical sprays, including in enclosed greenhouse
environments, are better documented in relation to the flower industry.
Energy and climate change

5.3.12

Growing in heated greenhouses occurs in countries where the climate is too


cold, too dry or too irregular or where nighttime temperatures drop,
particularly at higher altitudes. The tendency for cut flowers to be grown at
altitude in developing countries (Kenya, Ecuador, Colombia) means that
night time temperatures can be cooler and growers may use heating at night
to accelerate growing. Furthermore, in hotter countries, flowers and plants
are cultivated in cooled greenhouses, because the outside temperature is
too hot. Keeping flowers in a heated or a cooled greenhouse requires a
large amount of energy. In most cases, energy is generated by burning
fossil fuels

5.3.13

The UK government recognises that horticulture is an energy intensive


sector and has put in measures to support the sector to reduce this impact.
Industry bodies supporting production in developing countries have argued
that production in colder countries requiring use of heated greenhouses
result in climate change impacts at production stage that are greater than
the CO2 emissions resulting from imports flown in from developing
countries. However, robust data behind these claims do not appear to be
readily available in the public domain. Additionally, the fact that both
heating and cooling of greenhouses also occurs in developing countries is
likely to undermine this claim to lesser impacts for energy consumption and
climate change.
Improvement/mitigation options

5.3.14

The use of movable screens can achieve energy savings as well as provide
crop protection and improve the local climate. A movable screen allows
most control of temperature, humidity and light conditions in greenhouses.
The impact of the energy use and the contribution to the Greenhouse effect
can be reduced by using CO2 as fertiliser to make the flowers grow faster.
In countries with hotter climates, the use of alternative forms of energy to
cool greenhouses offers a potential means to reduce climate change
emissions.

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5.3.15

In Kenya, Oserian flower farm has taken advantage of geothermal energy in


Africas Rift Valley to heat its greenhouses through the night. Other
countries that could potentially take advantage of this energy include
Ethiopia, Uganda and Zambia. However, the set-up costs are high
Oserian were able to take advantage of existing abandoned wells drilled by
the national power company.

5.3.16

In the UK, the government provides support to the flower-growing sector to


support more energy efficient production of cut flowers in order to enable
producers to compete in the sector. (See paragraph 3.3.12).
Soil erosion

5.3.17

Soil erosion is likely to be an issue in the vicinity of steep slopes such as the
high altitude growing areas of Colombia and Ecuador. An ILO report (2000)
comments that soil erosion is an issue for smallholder farmers rather than
larger plantations. However, little data has been identified that specifically
identifies soil erosion as a concern.
Economic impact for diversification of economy / employment
creation

5.3.18

The labour intensive nature of the flower industry has been a major factor in
its promotion in developing countries, as a positive impact for employment
creation, including for landless people and as an alternative to non-viable
subsistence livelihoods. The sector in particular has had a positive impact
for female job creation. However, much of the employment is on a
temporary, seasonal or casual basis, reducing the positive benefits for
employees and increasing vulnerability to shocks, particularly when
employment benefits are reduced for non-permanent employees.
Table 7: Estimates of employment in export horticulture in Kenya and Zambia 34
Total employment
Kenya
Zambia

5.3.19

40,000 70,000
2,500

%
temporary,
seasonal, casual
65
32

% female
75
35

There is evidence that jobs created by the sector are relatively well paid in
countries where significant numbers of people are living below the poverty
line. For example, rates in Kenya and Zambia are reported to be mainly at
or above the national minimum wage (Smith et al, 2004:11; Tallontire et al,
2004: 37-38).
These positive benefits for female employment are
particularly significant in countries where the feminisation of poverty is a
factor, such as Kenya, where 55.4% of the population were reported to be
living in poverty in 2001, with a national target to reduce the proportion of
people below the absolute poverty lines (Kenya and $1PPP) by 10% by
2006 from 57% in 1999 (IMF 2005 poverty reduction strategy paper ) and

34

Source: Smith et al (2004) This report references a number of sources, including direct communications with exporter
bodies NZTT and KFC in 2003

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women are overrepresented amongst the poor. However, studies on the
impact of codes of conduct based on worker interviews identify that wages
do not provide a living wage i.e. are not high enough to cover the essential
needs of a family, including housing, childrens education and food (Smith et
al 2004:10-11; Tallontire et al 2004: 38-39). Similar findings are reported
for Colombia, where the national minimum wage US $150 ($2/day in 2002)
is reported to meet 45% of familys basic needs, other costs covered by
loans and other income source (Madrid 2006).
5.3.20

The contribution to foreign currency earnings for developing exporter


countries is the other main indicator of the positive impact of the cut flower
industry available. These contributions are significant (see data on
significance, due from Comtrade). These positive economic benefits at a
national level can be assumed to translate into developmental benefits,
such as increased national food security or improved education, in countries
where good governance is in place. However, where there are serious
concerns about issues of good governance, particularly in terms of use of
national finances, these economic benefits cannot be so easily assumed to
translate into sustainable economic benefits. Arguably, this is a factor in
Kenya,
Zimbabwe,
Ecuador
and
Colombia
(see
http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/gcb/2005).

5.3.21

The phenomenon of temporary, seasonal and migrant workers employed in


the cut flower industry has impacts for economic security, labour conditions
and inequality for workers.

5.3.22

A workshop paper (Madrid, 2006) on the industry in Colombia identified a


preponderance of short fixed-term contracts, despite the fact that many
employees work continuously in the same plantation for years. The use of
subcontracting through individuals or companies known as contratistas to
hire women workers on a daily basis is seen as a way for growers to avoid
bearing responsibility and costs of worker benefits.

5.3.23

A UNESCO/UNITWIN produced report on the Kenya cut flower industry


(Omosa et al, 2005) found that whereas 67% of code-adopting farms have
predominantly local labour force; 67% non-adopting farms have
predominantly migrant labour. This difference is reportedly due to local
ownership of code-adopting farms, compared with foreign investors nonadopting farms buy land in settlement schemes, resulting in migration for
employment. The report also found that on code-adopting farms 92%
workers are permanent as compared with 36% in non-adopting farm. These
differences indicate that codes of conduct can have a positive benefit f the
economic security, labour conditions and inequality for workers.
Vulnerability to natural or human induced shocks

5.3.24

Vulnerability to external shocks is most directly addressed within academic


studies on the impacts of code of conduct with reference to security of
employment. The reliance on temporary or seasonal workers and the
inadequate protection against unfair dismissal, even for permanent

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employees, indicate that the cut flower sector does not provide strong
protection for employees against shocks. The example of the fall in
employee numbers in Zambia as a result of drought likewise suggests that
the industry is risky for workers. Nevertheless, the observation that the
industry has been less affected by economic and natural shocks, such as
economic crisis in Zimbabwe and drought in Zambia suggest that workers in
the sector are less vulnerable than in other sectors of the economy.
5.3.25

A major potential external threat to workers is identified in vulnerability of the


sector to consumer boycotts of the industry. Labelling and codes of conduct
have been adopted partly in response to this threat to jobs in the sector.
However, since the codes and labelling mainly cover impacts in relation to
environment and to workers, there remain threats in relation to the wider
social and economic impacts attributed to the industry. Likewise, there
remain threats where flaws in implementation of codes of conduct are
identified. Campaigning bodies point to it as a threat to water supplies for
local communities and for food security in countries affected by drought and
food insecurity. However, in the case of food security, there does not
appear to be strong evidence to support impacts beyond a localised level
and even at this level, it is possible that the direct impacts are not significant
by comparison with other factors threatening food security. Furthermore, it
is arguable that the industrys contribution to export receipts has a positive
impact on food security. The issue of water supplies for local populations is
more substantive, particularly where abstraction and pollution of major lakes
are an issue. In both cases, poor quality of available evidence on the
industrys role in reducing or increasing vulnerability of communities to water
shortages or food insecurity makes it difficult to counter claims either way.
Improvement/mitigation measures

5.3.26

Measures to promote the empowerment of workers, including via gender


aware measures, are identified the academic studies on the trade in Africa.
These are considered likely to contribute to reducing vulnerability to external
shocks, particularly where they result in strengthening security of
employment for seasonal and temporary workers.

5.3.27

Information campaigns and other measures to counter the risks of


consumer boycotts in Europe are considered likely to be important
mitigation measures to which DEFRA and DFID alike can contribute. Whilst
recent DFID-funded research is likely to provide evidence to support
arguments demonstrating the social and economic benefits of the industry
for workers in developing countries exporting to the UK, there appears to be
a gap in terms of robust information on the environmental impacts and on
more complex sustainability impacts (e.g. on food security).

Labour conditions / standards

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5.3.28

Labour conditions cover a range of issues affecting workers, for which


international and national labour standards have been established, primarily
in core ILO conventions to which signatory countries are required to abide.
These include conditions of employment, fair treatment of workers, freedom
of association and collective bargaining, use of child labour and forced
labour, non-discrimination and safe and healthy working conditions. Past
reports from the early 1990s of abusive working conditions in the industry in
a number of developing exporter countries brought attention to these issues
and prompted the development of social codes of conduct (ETI 2005: 6).
More recently, reports by campaigning bodies to expose codes of conduct
as ineffective in addressing these issues have resulted in more robust
independent studies being commissioned to investigate the effectiveness of
these codes of conduct (Smith et al 2004: 1). Thus evidence is readily
available on the impacts and the effectiveness of codes of conduct as a way
of ensuring appropriate labour conditions are ensured and international and
national labour standards are upheld.

5.3.29

Job insecurity and harsh treatment of seasonal and casual workers were
identified by Smith et al (2004) as issues in Kenya and Zambia cut flower
industries. Flower growers reported increased permanent employment as a
result of pressures to implement codes, reduced seasonality in production
cycles and an increasing need for a stable and skilled workforce to maintain
high quality. Nevertheless, the study found that feelings of insecurity
remained, particularly amongst women and even amongst permanent
workers, due to the absence of adequate protection against unfair
dismissal.

5.3.30

Excessive requirements for overtime is identified to be a problem,


particularly for workers engaged in the packing houses. The impacts are
particularly difficult when imposed at short notice, particularly for women
with childcare responsibilities and with fears for their own safety at the end
of a late shift. This impact arises partly as a result of just in time supply
chain management, with orders for export coming in hours before flowers
need to be flown out (Smith et al 2004: 9-10).

5.3.31

Employment benefits, such as sick pay, maternity pay, housing allowance,


healthcare and childcare can all have positive socio-economic impacts for
workers and their families and the wider local economy. Worker codes of
conduct do cover some of these benefits, although often not the ones that
are most valued by workers in particular sick pay, medical care and
childcare. Where national legislation sets out requirements, codes which
stipulate compliance with local laws may cover these requirements
indirectly. However, the report found that the codes are not fully ensuring
that these benefits are provided, with seasonal and casual labourers often
excluded from benefits (Smith et al 2004: 11-12). Similar findings are
reported in studies on Colombia (see Madrid, 2006).

5.3.32

Freedom of association and right to collective bargaining: Studies on the


industry in Zambia and Kenya found that union recruitment in horticulture is
fairly recent, but with some early indications reported to indicate that

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unionisation had been effective in addressing some worker concerns,
including observation of re-entry times after spraying. An ETI report on
abuses of the base code included reported discrimination against union
members (ETI 2004: 8). A comparative report on code adopting and nonadopting farms in Kenya indicated that unionisation was very low in both
types of farms (Omosa et al, 2005: 55). A report on conditions in Colombia
includes a quotation that identifies the country as the most dangerous place
in the world to be a trade union activist with almost 4,000 trade unionists
murdered since 1986. It reports that as a result of repression, most
independent trade unions representing flower workers have ceased to
operate, although NGOs including Corporacin Cactus have continued to
document conditions and support workers where possible. In 2001 an
independent national trade union of flower workers was formed,
UNTRAFLORES, but dismissal of or discrimination against union members
followed (Madrid 2006).
5.3.33

Forced labour and Child labour: Forced or child labour were not identified
as issues in reports on cut flower production in Kenya or Zambia (Smith et
al 2004: 9). An ILO rapid assessment of child labour in the cut flower
industry in Ecuador in 2000 found that massive numbers of boys and girls
work at the plantations. In Cayambe, 84.5 per cent of primary-school
students who work do so in flower-growing enterprises. This figure is 43.5
per cent for secondary-school students, and 50 per cent for young people
interviewed in the market. In Cotopaxi, the percentage of boys and girls
working in flower growing is lower, involving 44.5 per cent of child workers.
It is not known to what extent child labour continues or how far this reflects
practices in other producer countries in Latin America.
Improvement / Mitigation measures

5.3.34

The ILO report recommends that any efforts to address child labour take
account of the socio-cultural characteristics of the region. Adoption,
implementation and monitoring of codes of conduct which refer to ILO core
labour standards should ensure that child labour is not used within the
flower industry.
Inequality

5.3.35

The significant female labour force involved in the cut flower industry in
developing exporter countries has led to a number of studies being
undertaken into gender dimensions of the industry, in particular outputs from
a DFID-funded research study on gender, rights and participation within
African horticulture. These reports identify positive economic benefits for
women as a result of the employment created. However, they also identify
negative gendered impacts for equality (Tallontire et al 2004: 6-7; Smith et
al 2004: 20). These include:

Insecurity of employment for women who are over-represented


amongst non-permanent workers

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Case Study CUT FLOWERS

5.3.36

Overtime, making it difficult to balance childcare with employment;

Low wages and childcare, where women unable to afford childcare


may leave their children unsupervised or out of school during work
or children are separated from their mothers

Discrimination against pregnant women in decisions concerning


recruitment and redundancy, lack of access to maternity leave

Gendered allocations of jobs reducing womens opportunities for


promotion

Particular risks from exposure to chemicals for pregnant and


breastfeeding women

Sexual harassment and verbal abuse.

The research methodology for these studies means that these findings can
be regarded as robust. Similar findings are reported in other countries,
including Colombia and Ecuador, although generally in less robust
information sources (Opondo, date? 35 , Madrid, 2006). Omosa et al (2005).
Mitigation measures

5.3.37

Reports by IDS and NRI (both 2004) make recommendations for achieving
improved working conditions in a gender-sensitive way, mainly aimed at
employers, and focusing on changes to basic employment policy and
practice (Smith et al 2004: 28). The main role identified for Northern
stakeholders was in communicating examples of good practice and
facilitating dialogue between local stakeholder groups.
Health and safety employers and communities

5.3.38

In the cut-flower producing countries of the South, employers often fail to


provide sufficient training and protective gear to workers who face daily
exposure to toxic chemicals. A survey of 8000 workers in plantations near
Bogot, Colombia, found that workers were exposed to 127 different
pesticides, three of which are considered extremely toxic by the World
Health Organization. An ILO Survey of the Ecuadorian flower industry
found that only 22 percent of companies trained their workers in the use of
chemicals.

5.3.39

Governmental regulations regarding pesticide use and health and safety


standards are often insufficient or unenforced. Colombias regulations on
pesticide use, for example, do not include specific rules for greenhouses,
where the impact of pesticides is tripled. The health of the workers is
compromised as a result of the lack of effective protection. Two-thirds of
Colombian and Ecuadorian flower workers reportedly suffer from workrelated health problems, including headaches, nausea, impaired vision,

35

http://www.gapresearch.org/governance/HORT1.pdf [Accessed 16/06/06]

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Development of the Evidence Base: Sustainable Commodities


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Case Study CUT FLOWERS
conjunctivitis, rashes, asthma, stillbirths, miscarriages,
malformations and respiratory and neurological problems. 36
5.3.40

congenital

An ETI report (2005: 8-9) identifies a long list of abuses of their base code
requirement that working conditions are safe and hygienic. These included
lack of personal protective equipments (PPE), pesticide spraying
instructions not being followed, none or few first aid boxes or trained first
aiders, abuse of chemical coding systems, particularly regarding re-entry
times for workers after spraying in greenhouses. Likewise, academic
reports produced by NRI (2004) and by IDS (2004) identified exposure to
chemicals and other health issues as an issue for workers. The health
impacts associated with pesticide and other chemical usage affect both
male crop sprayers and women workers in greenhouses, being particularly
serious for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Improvement / Mitigation measures

5.3.41

5.3.42

Codes of conduct adopted by flower farms include health and safety,


including safe handling of pesticides.
Various studies have been
undertaken to assess the effectiveness of these codes. Omosa (2005)
found that health and safety issue are taken more seriously in code
adopting farms compared to non-code adopting farms. However, medical
check-up for the majority of workers was neglected throughout the industry.
Measures covered in codes to address occupational health and safety
include:

Access to quality drinking water

Provision of toilet facilities

Provision of hand-washing facilities

Provision of health care

Provision of protective clothing and equipment

Training in health and safety

Appointment of health and safety officer.

The extensive list of abuses of the ETI base code in Kenya in relation to
worker health and safety, as well as the supportive evidence from
independent academic studies, would indicate that codes of conduct are not
fully adequate to address these risks, without further strengthening.

36

ILRF, 2003, Cut-Flower Industry: An ILRF Working Paper


http://www.laborrights.org/projects/women/Flower_Paper_0903/flower_paper_pesticides.htm [Accessed 21/06/06]

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5.4

Processing and Transportation: Packing House Cold Room


Refrigerated Transport
Air pollution (CO2, CFCs, chemicals)

5.4.1

Cut flowers are transported internationally by air. Air travel is particularly


damaging due to the amount of fuel burnt, composition of the fuel
(kerosene) and the nature of its emission into the atmosphere (i.e. at high
altitude). This is particularly unavoidable for developing countries exporting
cut flowers to Europe. Research conducted for DEFRA on food miles
concluded that air travel is the most environmentally damaging mode of
transport in terms of climate change. Although air freight of food accounts
for only 1% of food tonne kilometres and 0.1% of vehicle kilometres, it
produces 11% of the food transport CO2 equivalent emissions. 37 On the
basis of data provided by DEFRA in a Parliamentary written answer, the
Liberal Democrat party released a report that flowers flown from Kenya
alone are responsible for over 33,000 tonnes of CO2 each year 38 . In
response, it has been reported, for example by the Fair Trade Foundation 39 ,
that more carbon dioxide is emitted growing a glasshouse crop than given
off during the air freight of the same quantity of flowers. However, any
calculations undertaken to form the basis for these assertions on CO2
emissions have not been identified. Additionally, it is not clear whether CO2
emissions associated with maintaining the cold chain from the point of
cutting the flowers, during storage and transportation up until the point of
sale have been considered.
Table 8: Air miles from key cut flower exporters to the UK 40
Export country
Holland
Colombia
Ecuador
Zimbabwe
Kenya

Air miles
200 miles
5,500 miles
6,000 miles
5,000 miles
4,250 miles

Mitigation/improvement options
5.4.2

Given the dependency of the cut flower industry in developing countries for
air freight in cooled conditions, the opportunity to reduce this impact would
appear to be limited. Technology that maximizes efficiency in use of
international flights may achieve some savings in emissions. The Fairtrade
Foundation reports that flower importers are seeking to maximize the use of
return cargo planes, which supply food aid and freight to Africa.

37

AEA Technology, 2005, ED50254 Issue 7 The Validity of Food Miles as an Indicator of Sustainable Development: Final
Report produced for DEFRA. DEFRA
38
Quoted in http://www.edie.net/news/new_story.asp?id=11072&channel=0 [Accessed 19/06/2006] Original report not traced.
House of Commons Hansard written answers for 22/11/2005 pt 15 Column 1842W [Accessed at
www.publicationsparliament.uk 20/06/2006]
39
Fairtrade Foundation, 2006, Fairtrade Roses Q&A. The Fairtrade Foundation www.fairtrade.org.uk [Accessed 19/06/2006]
40
Source: http://www.theecologist.org/archive_detail.asp?content_id=230 [Accessed 21/06/2006]

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Water pollution (chemicals)
5.4.3

Sometimes flowers are dyed to alter or deepen the flowers natural colour.
This can lead to the pollution of ground- and surface water because of the
emission of dyes and preliminary treatment substances.
Mitigation/improvement

5.4.4

The avoidance of dyeing is the best way to prevent water pollution. In


particular, the use of heavy metal, including cadmium, should be avoided,
with use of water-based colouring agents the most effective way of
minimising water pollution from dyeing of flowers.
Packaging

5.4.5

The trade in cut flowers generates a considerable amount of packaging


waste. Packaging materials can cause impacts through the release of
chemicals during production and degradation. Furthermore, the disposal of
waste packaging can increase pressure on waste resources such as landfill
void.
Mitigation / Improvement options

5.4.6

The use of re-usable recyclable and biodegradable material and limits to the
amount of packaging can reduce the impact. The choice of environmentally
sounder materials can also minimise the pollution associated with
packaging. Computerised packaging systems can also enable efficient
packing of boxing to reduce freight costs and minimise packaging and
waste.

5.5

Distribution: Flower Markets Distributors/Retailers

5.5.1

This stage of the supply chain is mainly within Europe, both at the Dutch
auctions and within the UK. This study is concerned with impacts outside
the UK. It was felt that this stage is likely to have the least impacts within
the Netherlands, relevant EU legislation and environmental practices are
likely to be adequate to address negative social impacts, particularly given
the scale and significance of the Dutch auction houses. However, it is
possible that there are some harmful environmental, social or economic
impacts associated with this stage.

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Summary

6.1.1

Impacts arising from cut flower production and export relate particularly
strongly to the flower growing, packing and transportation stages. The
production stage involves a series of more detailed steps, which will vary
according to the type of flower grown.

6.1.2

The most robust information is available on social impacts for workers,


arising from studies on the impacts of codes of conduct for workers. These
demonstrate that codes have been effective to some extent in improving
working conditions. However, they also identify ongoing problems which
have proved harder to address, including gendered dimensions, which are
strongly evident in a feminised employment sector. These are most fully
documented in reports from a two year research project on ethical trade in
African horticulture, funded by DFID. The findings of these studies are also
acknowledged in an ETI report (2005). For results of the primary research,
see Smith et al 2004 and Tallontire et al (2004). These studies have used
qualitative research methods using triangulation to ensure robustness.
Their findings are more usable, general and build up a comparative picture
more effectively than other reports which are more country-specific or which
attempt to use semi-quantitative data, based on inadequate sample sizes
(Omosa et al). Nevertheless, all these reports provide a reasonably
consistent overall picture of an industry that has a growing understanding of
the social impacts for workers, particularly women workers, and that is
identifying ways to address these impacts in order to ensure the undoubted
economic benefits, including in terms of job creation, particularly for women,
who feature strongly amongst the poorest in the societies concerned.

6.1.3

The focus on worker conditions contrasts with a relative dearth of


information on wider impacts for the community health and safety, impacts
on access to natural resources and a more holistic understanding of
sustainable economic benefits at a community level.

6.1.4

The economic benefits are available in terms of contribution to export


earnings and to job creation, with information on earnings and staff benefits
being generated as a result of the studies on impact of codes of conduct.
However, few studies appear to have considered the economic
sustainability of the industry, including in comparison with the closely related
sector of vegetable production, or other forms of export production.

6.1.5

Whilst the reports on social impacts for workers make reference to codes of
practice on environmental practice, there appears to be little recent data in
the public realm on different environmental impacts of cut flower production.
This may be because the impact is assumed to be relatively wellunderstood. The case study on Lake Naivasha provides an interesting view
of how environmental impacts on water quantity and quality, on biodiversity
and impacts for neighbouring communities inter-relate. These interrelations include the indirect negative environmental impacts associated
with large economic migrant populations attracted by the employment
opportunities of the cut flower industry to this sensitive area. They also

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include the negative impacts for the local population as a result of the
increased demand on environmental resources and the worsening of
environmental conditions affecting other economic activities (including
fishing) and on community health (as a result of water pollution and overabstraction), housing quality and localised food security (as a result of
declining fish stocks used for local consumption).
6.1.6

41
42

In terms of policy implications, areas of concern:

Climate change: Recent research by Cranfield University implies


that less CO2 is produced by transporting cut flowers by air than
growing flowers in heated greenhouses in colder climates 41 .
However, this is dependent upon a number of assumptions, such
as the energy used to heat greenhouses comes from fossil fuels.
More research on this would be useful particularly testing the
robustness of the assumptions, the potential to mitigate these
impacts and how does this relate to economic benefits for exporter
countries not yet subject to limits on climate change emissions.

Economic and social impacts: Workers, growers and codes of


conduct operators alike are in agreement that the economic
benefits for national economies and for employees and the
household/local economy must be maintained whilst negative
social impacts for workers as a result of working conditions can and
must be addressed.
Codes of conduct and labelling, with
independent social and environmental auditing are increasingly
effective at addressing harmful impacts, although identified
problems still remain with this approach to mitigation. For example,
consumer boycotts can threaten the economic benefits and derived
social benefits resulting from increased income from working in the
cut flower industry 42 ; the proliferation of codes can act as a cost
barrier particularly to smaller independent growers; ensuring the
labelling keeps track with the appropriate batches of flowers
through the auction houses to the retail outlets remains a
challenge.

Water Use: Growing cut flowers requires significant amounts of


water. How can water use efficiency be maximised and potential
conflict between growers and other local users prevented?

DEFRA/DFID aid and investment: combined support to ensure


more holistic understanding of inter-relationship between
environmental, social and economic impacts at a local level in
exporter developing countries. There is a particular need to look
more widely beyond worker employment conditions to more
general sustainability and environmental considerations, so that UK
investment and aid in developing countries achieves sustainable
development at both local and national levels.

http://www.dfid.gov.uk/news/files/Speeches/trade/hilary-valentine-speech.asp
Due to the feminised labour force this can disproportionately impact upon women and ultimately children

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Biodiversity - Kenya and Lake Naivasha, appear to be special


cases of production focused in areas of ecological sensitivity.
However, it is also emerging in the Ethiopian highlands and
Tanzanias Mount Kilamanjaro. As the UK is a major consumer,
there is a strong case for more focus on protecting biodiversity
impacts in countries such as Kenya arising from UK consumption.

DEFRA controls the plant health passport system for flower


imports. What can be done to ensure that these requirements do
not result in increased use of pesticides harming workers and the
local environment, whilst ensuring any risks to UK biodiversity etc
are adequately controlled?

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Appendix I Literature Review


AEA Technology, 2005, ED50254 Issue 7 The Validity of Food Miles as an
Indicator of Sustainable Development: Final Report produced for DEFRA.
DEFRA
Asea, P, K, Kaija, D, 2002, Impacts of the Flower Industry in Uganda,
International
Labour
Office,
http://www.ilo.org/public/english/dialogue/sector/papers/uganflow/index.htm,
[accessed 4/7/07]
CARANA Corporation, 2005, Southern Africa Global Competitiveness Hub
Trip Report Value Chain Support to the Floriculture Export Sector in Zambia
and Horticulture Marketing Firms in South Africa. USAID
Dannson et al, 2004, Strengthening farm-agribusiness linkages in Africa:
Summary results of five country studies in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda
and South Africa. AGSF Occasional Paper 6. FAO, Rome.
ETI, 2005, Addressing Labour Practices on Kenyan Flower Farms: Report of
ETI involvement 2002 2004. Ethical Trading Initiative, UK.
Fairtrade Foundation, 2006, Fairtrade Roses Q&A. The Fairtrade Foundation
www.fairtrade.org.uk [Accessed 19/06/2006] This Q & A sheet does not fully

source factual data and claims regarding impacts.


FAO, 2002, A thorn on every rose for Kenyas flower industry. FAO.
http://www.fao.org/english/newsroom/news/2002/3789-en.html This article, placed on the FAO
website, provides some useful information but not all source data could be
traced to verify its reliability.
FIAN
website
http://www.fian.de/fian/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=177&Itemid=50
[Accessed 21/06/06] This German NGO website refers to research articles,
but not all source data could be traced to verify its reliability.
Hargreaves-Allen, V., 2003, Say it Without Flowers article in Ecologist
Online. http://www.theecologist.org/archive_detail.asp?content_id=230 [Accessed 21/06/2006]
This article purports to set out key facts without identifying sources. It is
useful as an indicator of the issues of concern for campaigning organisations
in Europe in favour of consumer boycotts.
House of Commons Hansard written answers for 22/11/2005 pt 15 Column
1842W [Accessed at http:www.publications.parliament.uk 20/06/2006] Data
provided by DEFRA is sourced from Eurostat, a reliable statistical source.
http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/ccl/intro.htm [Accessed 19/06/06]
http://www.flowers.org.uk/press/press-a%20rose%20is%20a%20rose-2006.htm

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http://www.flowers.org/press/press-releases.htm [Accessed 14/06/02006] The Flower and
Plants Association is an industry body. A conversation with the press officer
confirmed that they do cross-compare a range of information sources for the
industry information released. However, only selected information is available
in the public domain.
http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefing_notes/50_climate_top_tips.pdf [Accessed 21/06/06] This list

of action points does not identify sources of information. It identifies the key
concerns of campaigning NGOs concerned to address causes of climate
change.
Labor Rights, 2003, Codes of Conduct in the Cut-Flower Industry. An ILRF
Working Paper http://www.laborrights.org/projects/women/Flower_Paper_0903/flower_paper_index.htm
[Accessed 21/06/06] This paper references sources, which are a mixture of
international and government-produced studies and news articles. It is judged
to be reasonably robust in its use of evidence.
Kenya

Wildlife

Service,

1999, Lake Naivasha World Heritage.


http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1345 [Accessed 21/06/2006] This website uses
information provided by a Kenyan government body. It is considered to
provide reliable information.
Koyo, A., 2005, Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands: Lake Naivasha,
Kenya.
Ramsar Information Service.
http://www.wetlands.org/rsis/ [Accessed
21/06/2006] This website uses information provided by a Kenyan government
body and verified by experts. It is considered to provide reliable information.
Madrid, G, 2006, Women in the Cut Flower Export Trade in Colombia.
Workshop on Gender in Global and Regional Trade Policy: Contrasting Views
and New Research. Paper for Session 1 Defining the Issues. CSGR,
University of Warwick 5-7 April 2006. This paper, available online, is not
accompanied by the appendices of references. It uses information gathered
towards production of a PhD thesis (not yet published) so is considered to
provide reasonably reliable information.
Omosa, M, K & Njiru, R., 2005, The Social Impact Of Codes Of Practice On
The Cut Flower Industry In Kenya Final Report August 2005. Unesco/Unitwin
Chair University Of Nairobi. This study provides details of the research
methodology used to gather original data presented. There are identified
flaws in the survey which to some extent undermine its reliability.
Nevertheless, its findings are largely consistent with those of other, more
robust studies, so it is considered a reliable information source.
Opondo (date unknown?) Trade Policy in the Cut Flower Industry in Kenya
Globalisation and Poverty. http://www.gapresearch.org/governance/HORT1.pdf [Accessed 16/06/06]

This undated report provides information that appears to have been gathered
via primary research methods in Kenya. It is considered to be a reasonably
reliable source of information, particularly when considered alongside other
studies covering similar issues.
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ProFound, 2005, EU Market Survey 2005 Cut Flowers and Foliage United
Kingdom. Compiled for CBI by ProFound in collaboration with Proverde and
Jan Lanning. This survey appears to be based on standard market research
methodologies and thus is regarded as reasonably robust source of up-todate factual data.
Sikazwe, D., 2001, Zambian flower exports set to soar? New Agriculturist.
http://www.new-agri.co.uk/01-5/focuson/focuson7/html [Accessed 20/06/2006]
This online
news article uses information from reliable industry informants and thus is
regarded as reasonably reliable, although it appears that some data is for the
entire horticulture industry, not exclusively the cut flower sector.
Smith, S., Auret, D., Barrientos, S., Dolan, C>, Kleinbooi, K., Njobvu, C.,
Opondo, M. and Tallontire, A., 2004, Ethical Trade in African Horticulture:
gender, rights and participation. IDS Working Paper 223. IDS, Brighton. This
academic report provides details on the qualitative methodology, which used
participatory techniques to gather information and triangulation of information
sources to verify primary data collected. It summarises data from a series of
country-specific studies. It is regarded as a reliable source of evidence, with
use of reliable in-country industry informants used to identify factual data not
in the public domain.
Tallontire, A., Smith, S. & Njobvu, C., 2004, Ethical Trade in African
Horticulture: Gender Rights and Participation: Final Report on Zambia Study.
NRI Report No 2775. NRI, London. This academic report provides details on
the qualitative methodology, which used participatory techniques to gather
information and triangulation of information sources to verify primary data
collected. It is regarded as a reliable source of evidence, with use of reliable
in-country industry informants used to identify factual data not in the public
domain.
Tekere, M., 2005, Zimbabwe. FAO, produced by Trade and Development
Studies Centre, Harare, Zimbabwe. http://www.fao.org//docrep/005/y4632e/y4632e0y.htm
[Accessed 19/06/2006] This study, undertaken by a country expert on behalf
of a major international body, is regarded as a reliable source of evidence.
Thoen, R., Jaffee, S. and C. Dolan, forthcoming, Equatorial Rose: The
Kenyan-European Cut Flower Supply Chain, in R. Kopiki (ed.), Supply Chain
Development in Emerging Markets: Case Studies of Supportive Public Policy,
Boston: MIT Press.
UFEA (2000?) Investing in Ugandas Floriculture Industry. Uganda Flower
Exporters Association. This industry-produced article is regarded as a
reasonably reliable source of evidence, particularly when data is triangulated
with other studies.
Castelnuovo, A., Castelnuovo, J & Santacruz, X., 2000, Ecuador Child Labour
in Flower Plantations: A Rapid Assessment.
International Labour
Organization/ International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour
(IPEC), Geneva. This report is regarded as reliable. However, it is dated and
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thus it is considered likely that the situation may have changed considerably
since the time of the study.
Brada, R., Labrada, R., Fornasari, L & Fratini, N., date unknown, Manual for
Training of Extension Workers and Farmers on Alternatives to Methyl Bromide
for Soil Fumigation. UNEP/FAO. This is a factual manual that is regarded as
reliable.

45