WHAT IS FAIRTRADE?
Fairtrade, part of the international umbrella organisation FLO (Fairtrade Labelling Organisation), ensures the workers of the southern hemisphere a fair price, long term employment contracts and the possibility of investing in social and health projects.
Fairtrade is involved in coffee, bananas, coco, tea, cane sugar and many other products, including flowers cultivated in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and certifies that all products have been produced without causing any sort of exploitation on the local population by following the criteria of fair trade commerce.
The Fairtrade brand is a guarantee for the consumer because it certificates that the products are controlled along the entire route, from the producer to the final consumer.
The Fairtrade system distinguishes its self from other certification bodies thanks to the Fairtrade Premium, a small surcharge on the price of each product, which is used directly by the producers in the case of cooperatives, or by a committee of workers called JOINT BODY, democratically voted by the employees. The Joint Body decides independently where to invest the money coming from the Fairtrade Premium, especially in healthcare and social projects for their communities.
Fairtrade also promotes good cultivation strategies with particular care to:
· Ensuring better working conditions in conformity with the health and security laws and granting adequate payments to the workers.
· Ensuring the utilisation of integrated pest management through the use of useful insects and a rational use of fertilisers and pesticides.
· Optimising the consummation of water through the adoption of hydroponic cultivation systems including drop irrigation and rainwater harvesting methods.
WHEN DID FLORA TOSCANA AND FAIRTRADE’S PARTNESHIP START?
The first importation of “conventional” African cultivated roses, in other words not Fairtrade certified flowers, for Flora Toscana started in 1991 in order to compensate for the lack of a local or national product during the winter. Consequently, the cooperative decided to import cut roses directly from Africa and more specifically from Zimbabwe.
It was a difficult commercial choice because, as a cooperative composed of producers, many of the members disliked this “intrusion”, which was seen as a threat towards their products at first. Nevertheless, this choice was dictated by a demand to enlarge our assortment and maintain our customers during all periods of the year.
Furthermore, it was a problematic decision also on an ethical level. Despite recognising to African suppliers an adequate market price, Flora Toscana knew about the straining and unfair cost of working conditions in the African market thus feeling almost as a part of a “colonialist” system while on the other hand the demand as a firm to be closer to its own market’s demand.
In 2006, when the opportunity of importing flowers from developing countries through the Equo and Solidal commerce presented itself, we immediately embraced the idea. This resulted as a first major step towards a more mutualistic commerce of the cooperative, not merely charity but an actual substantial support to the local populations.
From 2006 and continuing today, the cooperative’s choice is concentrated in creating a “fair” product that both respectes the environment and is guaranteed by the Fairtrade certification, which adopts the measures of “fair” and “helpful” commerce according to the international standards.
Today, Flora Toscana imports directly from Kenya certified FAIRTRADE flowers, from the following producers: Karen Roses (Eldama Ravine), Simbi Roses (Thika) and Oserian (Naivasha), roses which are distributed in one of the biggest retail chains in Italy through the brand “Rose Solidal Coop”.
Flora Toscana’s Fairtrade cod: n°6031.
For further information on Fairtrade visit: www.fairtrade.net