Sustainability: In Ecuador, we still have a long way to go

At IFTF and Trade Fair the coming week, Martien Penning of Hillenraad Partners is giving a workshop titled ‘Does sustainability provide a differentiating proposition or is it no more than a licence to produce?’ An interesting question!

At FleuraMetz, we also feel that sustainability and social responsibility are important. As a member of FSI2020 (Floriculture Sustainability Initiative), our aim is that by 2020, at least 90% of our trade will consist of sustainable produce. The bar is high. We suspect that 90% is feasible in the Netherlands. But in Ecuador, we still have a long way to go.

First of all, you might ask whether we can even discuss sustainability when flowers are transported by air cargo. But if we leave that aspect out of the equation, there’s still a lot of work to do. GAP, Rainforest Alliance, MPS, FlorEcuador, Fairtrade, Veriflora. Plenty of certifications to get over here. But Ecuadorian growers have never been very fond of them.

A quick costs/benefit analysis usually shows that the benefits don’t outweigh the investments. I’ve got to admit that I can understand the reservations; our own purchasing policies also focus on other indicators for now, such as quality, service, stability, reliability and competitiveness. A certification label on top of that is great, but not a must.

To be honest, most of the growers here look after their social responsibilities better than their colleagues abroad, better even than in the Netherlands. Childcare, transport, lunch, medical care, dentist, schooling.

Especially the medium and large nurseries have everything in place. Without any certificate. The small group of growers that is certified, is often just certified because of a customer’s order specifications. If the customer didn’t demand it, most growers wouldn’t embark on it. And that illustrates the long a way we have left to go.

The only chance of success for FSI2020 is when the trade comes with stricter order requirements. That much is clear.

Victor van Dijk

Area manager South America, FleuraMetz

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