The Perception of Working Conditions on Kenyan Cut Flower Farms

Roses and other cut flowers from Kenya can be found in innumerable European and Asian supermarkets, floristry shops and online mail-order firms. The floricultural sector has a high impact on the Kenyan economy. However, during the last two decades, international media and scientific reports pictured problematic working conditions and negative environmental impacts of the industry. As a consequence, Fairtrade started various initiatives. Studies state the positive impact of Fairtrade International‘s standards on global trade production such as cut flower production. Yet, the experience and perception of the workers themselves are not enough included in research. This study analyzes if and how Fairtrade‘s impact is noticable in the workers‘ subjective working experiences.

Through a qualitative, phenomenological research design, the working conditions on a Fairtrade and non-Fairtrade cut flower farm are compared on a local micro level. It results that the working conditions on a Fairtrade farm are perceived and experienced as rather negative and inhumane while, in comparison, workers from a non-Fairtrade farm defined their conditions as more adequate. Also, the empirical data gives evidence that this might not be an individual case. This could be led back to a lack of compliance with international Fairtrade standards and weak national legislation. Therefore, a broader, qualitative or mixed method study on a meta-level is required. However, the Fairtrade initiative shall re-evaluate its standards and inspections system to prevent the dilution of its own standards and reputation.

About me

Thomas Beutler Applied Ethology and Animal Biology

I am convinced that the unsustainable way of living in the industrialized societies and the respective resource consumption are mainly responsible for the unbalanced wealth distribution in the world. I want to contribute to find (new) ways to improve the standard of living within marginalized communities in order to facilitate a prosperous life for the following generations. The Bachelor program in African Studies and specialization on geography as well as the Masters in Rural Development and Natural Resource Management at SLU were the educational basis of this path. Through my studies, journalistic and other activities within interdisciplinary fields, I have specialized in peasant activities in the Global South – especially in Africa. I focus mainly on the question how small-scale farmers could participate in national and international rural development processes.