Origins of our
Fresh Cut Flowers
Roses for Valentine’s Day
Lilies at Easter
Poinsettias for Christmas
These are just a few of the out-of-season flowers we Nova
Scotians expect to be able to buy for special celebrations.
A great many of these flowers we cherish are grown in
Developing World countries amid deplorable conditions.
A field of Baby’s Breath
Where do our Cut Flowers come from?
The two largest exporters of cut flowers are Colombia and
Ecuador. Between them they account for 90 percent of cut
roses, 98 percent of carnations, and 95 percent of
chrysanthemums sold in the U.S.A.
Map of Colombia
Other Countries that Export Flowers include:
Chile Kenya Turkey
Carnations, roses Carnations, roses, Spray carnations
Carnations, roses Morocco Carnations, roses
Carnations, roses South Africa Roses, proteas,
Proteas, roses, asters dolidago
India exotic flowers
What is the Effect of
Flower Cut Production
on Developing World
1. Many are being poisoned by uncontrolled
use of harmful pesticides
• Many of these countries do not have regulations regarding the
use of pesticides now banned in North America, such as
• Workers are rarely given protective clothing against the
effects of harmful pesticides that can be inhaled or absorbed
through the skin. Forty percent of Ecuadorian flower
workers wore no protective clothing when fields were being
• Colombian flower workers were exposed to
127 different types of pesticides, of which 20
per cent are banned in Canada and the U.S.A.
• Two-thirds of Colombian flower workers
suffer health issues related to exposure to
pesticides, such as impaired vision, respiratory
and neurological problems.
• In Bolivia near the centre of the flower trade,
nearly four percent of babies born in 2000 had
some form of birth defect; eight percent of
hospital patients were women suffering
2. Many workers are ill-used
• Few flower workers make a decent living for themselves and their
families. Most earn about $2 a day
• The rights of most workers are not protected.. In Ecuador, of the
hundreds of flower companies, only three were unionized.
• Most workers are females and in countries such as Kenya, the
International Labour Rights Fund (ILRF) discovered that up to 90
percent of female flower workers had been raped by supervisors.
• Many flower workers, in an ongoing struggle to meet quotas,
have to make their children work alongside them. In Ecuador, the
International Labour Organizations estimates that in just two
provinces, over 48,000 children are at work in flower fields.
1. Less Farm Land
• Turning arable land into fields for
cut flowers means less land
available for farmers to grow
food for their families.
2. Poisoning the Land and Water
• In some countries, such as Kenya, workers are using ozone-
depleting fumigants, such as methyl bromide, one of the world’s
most dangerous chemicals.
• Unrestricted use of chemicals poisons both the soil and the
waterways. In Columbia, locals were feeding discarded flower
stalks to their cows, resulting in milk contaminated with
3. Depleting Water Supplies
• Water, a precious commodity in many Developing
countries, is being diverted to the flower trade. One large
flower farm needs up to 80,000 litres of water a day.
• In Kenya in 2001, droughts left three million people short
of adequate water while Kenyan farmers diverted water to
produce 52 million tons of flowers.
• Flower farms near the Kenyan capital of Nairobi receive
water piped from the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro,
meanwhile most people in the city have no clean water
4. Adding Carbon-based Emissions to
• Flowers heavily sprayed with pesticides have a
limited shelf life. It is important to get them to retail
markets in the Developing World as quickly as
• Flying cut flowers from South America, Africa and
the Far East to markets in Nova Scotia means more
noxious emissions into the atmosphere.
Lily of the Valley
Some distances cut flowers are flown to
Stanfield International Airport, Halifax:
Chile Italy Thailand
8675 km 5961 km 13,333 km
Colombia Kenya Turkey
4549 km 10, 934 km 7142 km
Ecuador Morocco Venezuela
5185 km 4891 km 3797 km
India South Africa Zimbabwe
10,973 km 12,000 km 11,743 km