Harmonization of the Fairtrade Premium for Flowers
Following an extensive review of the Fairtrade Standards for Flowers and Plants, a new standard will be published on 31 October 2008. This new standard will harmonize the level of Fairtrade Premium and strengthen the trading conditions within the Fairtrade flower supply chains.
Flowers are one of the Fairtrade Labelling System’s most dynamic products. Farms are currently certified in Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
The flower industry is an important export earner for many developing countries. Yet numerous campaigns and reports have highlighted the inhumane working conditions of labourers on flower farms. The industry was accused of paying workers less than 1 USD for an eight to twelve hour day, in a study conducted by the Kenya Human Rights Commission in 2002. In the same study the industry was accused of providing over crowded housing and requiring workers to handle dangerous chemicals without proper protective equipment. This last point exposed workers to the risk of being poisoned.
Fairtrade has been combating unacceptable conditions since 2004. It does this by certifying those farms which ensure safe and acceptable working conditions for their employees. Consumers can buy Fairtrade flowers that carry the FAIRTRADE Mark knowing that the rights of the workers who have produced them are being respected. Furthermore, an additional payment, known as the Fairtrade Premium is included in the price for projects to improve the social conditions of workers and their communities. The Fairtrade Premium is managed by a Joint Body consisting of elected workers and managers who meet to make democratic decisions on the use of this additional money. To date Fairtrade Premium projects on flower farms have included; creation of adult education facilities; drilling of wells in local villages; purchases of equipment for day-care; books, desks and chairs and repair of windows at local schools; donations of books, pens and bed linen to a local children’s home; increase of stock for community rental shops; purchases of equipment for disabled community members.
As part of a recent review of the Fairtrade Standard, FLO carried out extensive consultations with all stakeholders (including workers, producers and traders) as well as comprehensive research into Fairtrade Premium revenues, its use and the cost of sustainable production. The result of this consultation and review is a harmonized Fairtrade Premium for all flowers and plants for all regions. The Fairtrade Premium for flowers and plants will be 10% of the FOB (free on board) price.
For most producers in Africa, the new standard will mean a slight increase in Premium (from the current 8%). This is needed more than ever in Kenya, particularly following the post election crisis that displaced thousands of families across the country and highlighted the need for urgent investment in community development projects. At the peak of the violence Fairtrade Certified flower farms provided shelter, water and security to many of the migrant workers in the worst hit areas. Now that stability has been restored the Fairtrade Premium will be a very powerful tool for bringing the local community together and replacing destroyed infrastructure and buildings.
Previously there was a complicated and non-transparent system for distinguishing between the rates of the Fairtrade Premium for flowers. Thus, the majority of stakeholders recommended that continued confusion about what premium rate was applicable should be avoided. The result means a slight decrease in Premium for producers in Latin America and Asia. However, the immediate positive effect of this harmonization is that all Fairtrade flower producers are competing on an equal footing and it removes the risk of traders paying the wrong Fairtrade Premium.
The harmonized 10% Fairtrade Premium, along with continued growth of Fairtrade flower sales, especially in new markets such as the USA, creates new opportunities for Fairtrade certified flower producers around the world.
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