Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 19th 2015 Contents FEBRUARY 2015 • WEEK THREE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG7
Cut roses, the top seller
exotic flowers in the world, with more than
1,500 different species of flowers. Colombian
flowers have won numerous international
recognitions and are the country s top non-
traditional agricultural export.
The top T&T companies that import and
retail Colombian flowers include Flowers 137,
Multiflora International, Keville Redman,
Flower Time and Whitefield Corp/Caribbean
Gonzalez said it takes a couple of days before
these flowers reach T&T after they are ordered.
"Miami is the international hub and from
Miami the flowers are distributed to other
regions worldwide. So when the flowers reaches
customers they are very fresh. It is one of our
competitive advantages," he said.
Labour rights and flower industry
In the ProColombia press release last Friday,
its president Maria Claudia Lacouture said:
"Beyond producing a quality product, the
industry directly generates more than 120,000
jobs that provide opportunities for farmers
and women in Colombia to become self-sus-
Critics have argued that Colombia s suc-
cessful flower industry has grown at the
expense of workers rights and conditions.
Responding to criticisms about alleged
exploitation in the flower industry, Gonzalez
told the Business Guardian that the industry
also provides jobs for the socially disadvantaged
sectors of Colombian society.
"The flower industry provides 120,000 direct
and indirect jobs in Colombia. Sixty-five per
cent of the workers in the Colombian flower
industry are women," he said.
Gonzalez said the mere fact that the industry
has created jobs for lower income people shows
that it is not exploiting but rather lifting people
out of poverty.
"It is creating opportunities for people in
Colombia especially women. The industry was
very aware of this and wanted to improve the
conditions," he said.
He also pointed out that the organisation
Asocolflores represents nearly 75 per cent of
total Colombian flower exports, and is respon-
sible for policies that protect worker safety
As well, the Colombian Association of
Flower Exports and the certification pro-
gramme Florverde are renowned for imple-
menting sustainable, best practices throughout
the flower industry.
According to the British newspaper
Guardian, in recent years, Colombia has
emerged as the world s second largest flower
exporter, with plane-loads of freshly-cut flow-
ers leaving for the US, UK, Japan and other
markets every day. Exports increased by 4.4
per cent between 2013 to 2014, according to
the Cactus Corporation, a Bogotá-based cam-
paign group, which claims the industry s US
$1.2 million (2012) annual sale revenues are
being bought at the cost of workers rights.
Colombia s flower producers insist that steps
are being taken to improve standards. The
Colombian Association of Flower Exporters,
for instance, has developed a comprehensive
social and environmental certification scheme.
The Florderve Sustainable Flowers seal covers
a range of employment protections, health
and safety requirements, and environmental
Other independence certification schemes
are also increasingly prevalent in Colombia s
flower industry, including Rainforest Alliance,
Fair Flowers Fair Plants and Fairtrade. Demand
for sustainably-certified flowers remains low,
however. Only 52 farms are currently registered
under Florderve, for instance, representing
just over 2,000 hectares.
From Page 6
Carlos Gonzalez, executive director,
ProColombia for the Caribbean region,
said there would be an international
Flower Fair in Colombia from October
28 to 30 and he invited T&T busi-
nesses to participate.
This fair takes place in Bogota every
"The last one took place in 2013.
There would be over 15,000 exhibi-
tions. People from more than 40
countries partner with the Colombian
Exporters of Flowers. We call on buy-
ers in T&T to participate in the fair,"
He said that Colombian flowers are
not just for Valentine's Day but for all
"Caribbean importers are picking up
on other important dates such as
Mother's Day and special occasions.
Wedding and event planners can de-
sign beautiful arrangements and bou-
quets with natural Colombian
flowers, which is a trend that Colom-
bia aims to set in markets like Ja-
maica and T&T," he said.
He foresees the market for flowers
growing in T&T in the future.
"We will have better logistics to de-
liver the flowers in the future and
have more farms to grow the flowers
and with our high quality and diver-
sity, people will continue to buy them.
There is more potential for growth in
T&T and the region."
Beyond producing a quality
product, the industry directly
generates more than 120,000
jobs that provide
opportunities for farmers and
women in Colombia to
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