Impact of Fairtrade on flower workers and market access of flower farms in East Africa

Published: 13 Feb 2023


More than one billion Fairtrade flower stems and young plants are sold each year, with workers earning €8.5 million in 2021 in Fairtrade Premium to invest in improving their lives and communities. Given the room for growth of Fairtrade flowers and the potential increase in benefits for flower workers especially, Fairtrade commissioned Social Policy and Development Consulting Limited to conduct a study on the impact of Fairtrade on flower and plant workers in major markets in East Africa, and on market access for these producer organisations. In 2022, data were collected through mixed methods, comparing Fairtrade and non-Fairtrade producer organisations. The study covered 11 producer organisations in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia (nine Fairtrade certified, and two non-Fairtrade). Young plant producer organizations were included in the sample (two Fairtrade, one non-Fairtrade).

Key findings include:

  • Flower workers reported Fairtrade’s core benefits as better working conditions, no perceived discrimination based on gender or ethnicity, and fairness in recruitment and promotions.
  • Fairtrade plays a significant role in supporting workers’ rights and gender issues, including women’s rights, entrepreneurship and leadership skills.
  • The Fairtrade Premium stands out as a key highlight in all Fairtrade certified organisations that contributes to workers’ and communities’ welfare.
  • Market access was central to the decision for producer organisations to pursue Fairtrade certification.

Among other learnings, the study also highlights the fact that Fairtrade has to continue its work to improve wages towards living wages and further flower workers’ income improvements in order to ensure that they are able to earn enough for a decent living. The opportunities for – and responsibilities to – flower workers are significant, and will require commitment from traders, businesses, advocates and shoppers to continue expanding sales for Fairtrade producers and progressing toward living wages and better livelihoods.

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