The heart of a home is a mother, whose love is warm and true. And home has always been
“sweet home” with a wonderful mother like you!
Mother’s Day in the U.S. is celebrated on the third Sunday of every May, but though elsewhere it may fall on different dates it is one of the few holidays shared by countries around the world. Although every day should be Mother’s Day, we choose a particular date to remind us to shower our moms with gifts and express our love and gratitude for everything she does for us.
Today and in the past weeks we see flowers everywhere: in advertisements, grocery stores, pharmacies, and department stores. But, few people stop to think about the workers that picked them. Flowers – especially roses – top the list of Mother’s Day gifts. You probably don’t know that the bouquet you’re buying may not be grown in the U.S.
So, how much do you know about the flower industry?
Fair Trade has gathered the following data of the flower industry:
- Cut flowers generate over $100 billion a year on revenue.
- This industry largely relies on hiring female workforce of poor and less educated background.
- The main suppliers are:
- Netherlands accounting for 55% of trade
- Colombia (18%)
- Ecuador (9%)
- Kenya (6%)
- The major consumptions markets are:
- Germany (19%)
- USA (17%)
- UK (16%)
- the Netherlands (13%)
- Although it has shown improvement, for years the industry has reported poor working conditions including low pay, over-crowded housing and repression of trade unions.
Agricultural labor is intense, and farmworkers are face hazardous work settings every day. Flower farmworkers are exposed to life-threatening pesticides that may lead to different forms of cancer, reproductive issues, and other health issues: not to mention the number of cases of sexual harassment, unfair wages, and others.
Mother Jones shared a quote from a farmworker woman on its article of the flower industry in Ecuador: “I gave birth to a mongoloid baby,” she says. In the yard, the clucking of hens competes with the honky-tonk beat of a Quechuan love ballad coming from a radio inside. Maybe it was because of the chemicals, she says, before stepping back into her house and shutting the front gate. “But I didn’t have the money to find out.”
It is ironic that while we purchase these amazing flowers to show love to our moms, the workers who grow the flowers are mothers who work long hours under extreme and harsh life threating conditions. Fair Trade has been working on certifying flower farms to protect workers’ rights and ensure decent working conditions, while also supporting them to have a stronger voice.
An article on Hortibiz shared the following quote about the challenges faced by a flower farmworker: “It’s not rosy for most of us here in flower farms especially female workers. Despite working for over 40 hours a week, we live from hand to mouth,” Njeri laments. “I am forced to live from paycheck to paycheck and in perennial debt.”
So ask yourself, what can I do? Before buying a bouquet of flowers for mom, check whether they come from a certified Fair Trade farm. Support fair work conditions for all flower farmworkers. Look for the Fair Trade logo and show your love with your support.
On Mother’s Day, AFOP Health & Safety Programs Staff wants to wish every farmworker woman a wonderful day: one in which you are treated with respect, love, and justice. Thanks for all the incredible sacrifices you make to place food on your own family table and on ours.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY – TODAY AND EVERY DAY!