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... UK govt: Send roses to loved ones from Kenya UK govt: Send roses to loved ones from Kenya

14 February 2008

The UK government is reminding shoppers for this year's Valentine's Day to buy roses from a more environmentally-friendly source such as Kenya, to both cut down on emissions and to help the troubled country.

The Kenyan flower industry employs 100,000 people and the government has said that buying flowers from developing countries creates jobs and reduces poverty, while a recent study has found that roses flown to the UK from Kenya produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than roses grown in Holland in heated greenhouses.

Roses, the most popular choice for Valentine's Day and the UK's best selling flower, was the first flower to be marketed under the Fairtrade label in 2004, with one supplier estimating that up to one fifth of all roses sold in the UK are certified by Fairtrade.

Kenya is the largest supplier of these Fairtrade stamped roses, accounting for 50 to 60 per cent of total volumes sold in Europe.

A UK-based group of companies supporting Fairtrade, called the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), said that growing support for the movement has lead to benefits for Kenyan workers, especially women.

"One striking impact of ETI members' efforts has been better conditions for women workers - for example, many farms now have sexual harassment policies in place as well as gender committees, with adequate breaks for breastfeeding mothers and light duties for pregnant women."