Flower farmers and workers

The cut flower trade is now a major industry in both developing and developed countries, with global trade estimated to be worth more than $100 billion a year. 

Flower WorkersThe Netherlands is a major exporter of cut flowers, accounting for 55% of trade followed by Colombia (18%), Ecuador (9%) and Kenya (6%). The major consumptions markets are Germany (19%), USA (17%), UK (16%) and the Netherlands (13%). 

The industry is becoming increasingly important to the economies of developing counties, bringing in vital foreign exchange for investment in economic development. Most flowers are produced on commercial farms and provide employment opportunities and improved livelihoods for millions of workers. Colombia’s flower exports, for example, generates an income for around 800,000 people while Kenya’s flower industry provides vital income for up to two million people and is the country’s second largest agricultural foreign exchange earner (after tea) at more than $500 million a year.  

The flower industry employs a largely female workforce of poor, less educated and therefore vulnerable workers. It has long had a reputation for poor working conditions including low pay, over-crowded housing and repression of trade unions. Over the past years, conditions have vastly improved for workers in many countries, but there are still challenges. 

Fairtrade aims to protect and benefit workers on flowers farms by working with certified farms to ensure decent working conditions for their employees and protecting workers’ rights. These rights encompass economic, environmental and social dimensions of working conditions but also aim to amplify and strengthen the voice and choices of workers’ themselves. A recent study by Fairtrade International with three certified flower plantations in Ecuador, provides useful insight into how workers view their own empowerment and how Fairtrade can support their goals  

Fairtrade works with 55 Fairtrade certified flower producer organisations in eight countries, representing 48,500 workers. Fairtrade sales generate an additional Fairtrade Premium for workers to invest in projects of their choice. In 2014, sales of almost 640 million stems meant flower plantation workers received Premium payments of £4.4 million which they spent on education, housing improvements, finance and credit services, as well as supporting education in their communities by renovating school buildings and providing student bursaries. This video about Ravine Roses, a Fairtrade certified flower plantation in Kenya, shows the difference that Fairtrade Premium funds have made to worker empowerment and community development in the region.

Our Flower farmers and workers

  • bigot

    Bigot Flowers Ltd, Kenya

    Bigot Flowers Ltd started growing roses in 2002. When they achieved Fairtrade certification in 2008, they made lots of positive changes.

  • Flower picker surrounded by rose stems at Finlay's flower farm

    Flamingo Flowers

    Horticulture is a mainstay of the Kenyan economy. Flower farms are a key employer, providing jobs in areas where there are few other alternatives and ensuring a valuable source of export revenue.  Around 55,000 people, mainly young women, are directly employed in the industry, while 2 million people indirectly depend on the flower industry for their livelihoods.


  • Harvest Ltd

    Harvest Ltd, Kenya

    Happier employees, higher productivity, increased sales. Since becoming Fairtrade certified in 2011, Harvest Limited’s Athi River flower farm is thriving.

  • primarosa

    Primarosa Flowers Ltd, Kenya

    Primarosa Flowers has set itself the goal of being the leader in its region in the implementation of environmentally friendly agricultural practices.

  • ravine roses worker

    Ravine Roses, Kenya

    Ravine Roses is part of Karen Roses Limited Group, a company established in 1989 by the Kotut family.

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