GROWERS RESPOND TO NEGATIVE WEB ARTICLE
Association of Colombian Flower Exporters,
took issue with an article posted online in October about the Colombian
floral industry. The author,
Upside Down World,
an online magazine covering activism and politics in Latin America, was
critical of the industry’s treatment of workers, particularly women.
Following is the complete text of Asocolflores’ response to the article.
Linda Farthing would have you believe otherwise, but
the reality is that Colombian flowers do build a better life for workers
in a developing country.
The Association of Colombian Flower Exporters expressed
its concern over the inconsistencies uncovered in Linda Farthing’s
article, “Where Flowers Bloom So Does Hope: Colombia’s Troubled Flower
Industry,” recently posted on the Web.
To start with, Ms. Farthing fails to acknowledge the
fact that Colombian flower growers are at the vanguard of one of the
most comprehensive corporate social responsibility efforts to be found
on the continent. In the same vein, her zeal to fulfill her personal
agenda tied to numerous union organizations and international NGOs
[non-governmental organizations] leads her to overtly exclude Colombian
floriculture’s significant advances geared toward raising the quality of
life of the almost 1 million Colombians involved in growing flowers
around the country over the past 15 years.
Colombian floriculture has consolidated its position as
the country’s top-ranking non-traditional export, currently generating
more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs. To a person, this industry’s
Asocolflores-affiliated workers receive 100 percent coverage for social
security benefits, pensions and worker’s compensation insurance. The
Colombian flower industry is the country’s largest employer of women in
rural areas, filling 25 percent of jobs for Colombian women, not to
mention its being the biggest creator of jobs per hectare in the
These important facts about Colombian floriculture must
be taken into account to avoid falling into the trap of reporting
isolated instances and sweeping generalizations by writers with biased
agendas that serve only to undermine the tremendous efforts and
achievements of the majority of Colombian flower growers. The
entrepreneurs behind Colombian floriculture are deeply committed to
sustainability, social responsibility and the appropriate use of natural
resources. Their undertakings have led to
certification playing a key role in promoting the implementation of the
very highest socio-environmental growing standards fully benchmarked and
harmonized with the widely accepted and respected international
(Good Agricultural Practices) as of 2008.
As an example, these realities allow Asocolflores to
point to one of Ms. Farthing’s numerous inaccuracies, such as her
assertion that Colombian floriculture is somehow depleting the Bogotá
Savanna’s water resources. Ms. Farthing’s allegation in this case is
completely unfounded and without merit. Flower farms occupy only 5,500
hectares of a 200,000-hectare area [2.75 percent of the Savanna land
area]. Further, current studies demonstrate that Florverde®-certified
flower farms have indeed reduced their water dependency and,
consequently, the impact on the Savanna watershed and groundwater
consumption by 44 percent as a result of rainwater collection efforts.
Colombian floriculture has, without a doubt, faced the
thorny issue of the appreciation of its peso and endured significant
reductions in its earnings. But it is no less certain that its business
owners and managers have been able to continue the essential strides
forward in innovation and competitiveness. These entrepreneurs have been
able to strengthen their presence in major markets, deliver their
products to new destinations, boost their standards of quality, and
press ahead with vital projects such as flower shipments by sea — to
highlight just a few of their achievements.
Colombian floriculture is a transparent open-door
industry, readily available to substantiate its production processes and
worker programs for any visitor who wishes to see things firsthand, and
to show the other great accomplishments and achievements that reporters
like Linda Farthing prefer to ignore. Those interested in the true story
are most definitely welcome and invited to Colombia, Land of Flowers.