A message from Molly Harriss Olson, CEO of Australia and New Zealand
I am thrilled that Fairtrade flowers are now available in Australia so that everyone here can have the chance to choose flowers that are environmentally sustainable and support community development.
It might come as a surprise to you to discover that flowers, especially roses, are often imported from overseas. Developing countries, like Ecuador, Kenya and Ethiopia, supply flowers all over the world. We work with a number of those farmers to ensure that their practices are sustainable and the workers are empowered. So, if you chose to buy Fairtrade flowers then you can be sure that you’re doing what you can to support fair and sustainable practices.
We are still encouraging florists to stock this new product, so if you can’t find Fairtrade flowers at your local flower seller, then encourage them to order them. To do this, they should go to our Fairtrade certified wholesaler, Mr Fresh (https://mrfresh.com.au/).
And, if you need to give them some reasons to stock our amazing Fairtrade flowers, then try these:
- Fairtrade flowers empower women
Almost a half of all the workers in Fairtrade flower farms are women. In those farms the workers are given opportunities to become leaders and fulfill their potential. Hannah Nduta is an example of one such woman. Hannah was a high school leaver who started as a casual labourer at Wildfire Flowers in Kenya twelve years ago. Back then Hannah thought she was destined to clean greenhouses and trim rose bushes but now she’s a senior supervisor overseeing five team leaders.
‘I know there is more opportunity for growth, I can see that I will go even further,’ says Hannah.
We think so too.
- Fairtrade flowers protect the planet
Fairtrade businesses are encouraged to understand the limitations of their natural environment and how best to look after it. Many Fairtrade flower farms are piloting natural solutions from cow manure to compost to increase productivity and tackle pests without harming the environment. There are also all sort of imaginative conservation steps being taken including large scale planting of trees, collecting litter for fuel for a community cooker, and even running a conservation park!
- Workers on Fairtrade flower farms are some of the first moving towards a living wage
Low wages are the biggest battle we are fighting today within global supply chains. Overcoming this obstacle is core to Fairtrade’s mission but it is complex and cannot be solved by simply asking farms to pay higher wages. A well-known and influential business, Finlay’s Flowers recently announced its plans to close after increases in wages became unsustainable and rendered the farm commercially unviable.
So, at Fairtrade we collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders, including businesses, farmers and workers to come up with plans for the sector to increase wages, and within our system we recently reviewed our Flower Standards and introduced a minimum floor wage in 2018. In Ethiopia, where there is no legal minimum wage, this has driven workers’ wages up considerably.
- The Fairtrade Premium makes life better for flower farmers
As well as working to increase wages and make sure flower farms have good working conditions, Fairtrade pays a Fairtrade Premium of 10% for every stem sold. This money goes back to an elected committee of workers who decide what it should be spent on. This might include bursaries for children’s education, healthcare and subsidised food outlets near farms.
- Fairtrade flowers will make you feel good
Flowers have always been given as a symbol of life and love and at time of celebration. Buying flowers already has the feel-good factor but buying Fairtrade flowers is even better. When you see that familiar Fairtrade symbol on your flowers you can be sure that the people involved in growing those beautiful buds had access to opportunity.
Fairtrade flowers are a driver of genuine, sustained positive change, which is what we are all about.