Ximena Franco, Florverde: better social and enironmental practices

Colombian flower growers working hard on reputation

Nowadays, sustainable flowers are becoming increasingly more valued by countries all over the world. As Colombia is the second largest exporter of flowers in the world, many Colombian growers are required to have a sustainability certification. In order to support Colombian flower growers to acquire such a certification a scheme has been developed: Florverde® Sustainable Flowers certification scheme. This is explained by Ximena Franco from Florverde.

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers

Since 1996, the first code of conduct was written by Florverde. Afterwards, the code of conduct developed and expanded to a certification scheme, named Florverde® Sustainable Flowers. "This is an independent social and environmental standard which ensures that flowers certified under this scheme have been responsibly produced. It requires flower growers to adopt measures that will protect and enable worker’s rights, as well as implement best environmental practices."

Although Florverde Sustainable Flowers® is responsible for setting the standard and obtaining stakeholder approval, the certification itself is awarded by third party certification bodies, such as SGS, Icontec and NaturaCert. The certification process includes reviewing farm documentation, inspecting farms, interviewing workers, and reviewing lab test results. About 39% of Colombia’s total flower exports are Florverde® Sustainable Flowers certified.

Since 1996, Florverde also works together with the association of Colombian flower exporters, named: Asocolflores; a non-profit organization that represents and defends the interests of Colombian flower growers and exporters, who currently account for 80% of Colombia’s total flower exports. Together, they established the Florverde Flower farms as a strategy to build capacity in the flower sector, for the implementation of best environmental and social practices. From 1998 to 2012, they achieved to decrease the use of chemical pesticides by more than 40%. Also the use of surface water and underwater decreased. In 2012, more than 54% of the water that is used for irrigation processes comes from rain water.

Who can be Florverde® Sustainable Flowers certified?

 

“Any fresh-cut flower producer, regardless of size or amount of workers, can be certified as long as they comply with our standards“, says Franco. When looking for a certification, the growers need to contact one of the third party certification bodies. Every year, the scheme is added with new regulations. So, the growers who already have a certification need to comply with these standards again in order to maintain their certification.

Advantages of being Florverde® Sustainable Flowers certified

"For a grower, being certified has many advantages", says Franco. Firstly, in the process of implementing the Florverde standards they find a better way to grow flowers or to organise their companies or to implement best practice. So, in the standards, they find a good management tool. Even though, Florverde label doesn't mean a better price, they find a commercial advantage in the market. Many markets ask for a sustainability guarantee or label.

Partnerships and equivalences

Since 2008, Florverde® Sustainable Flowers and GLOBALG.A.P. standards have been the equivalent and mutually accepted by all trading partners. The GLOBALG.A.P. standard is one of the most important and renowned certifications in the world, promoting good agricultural practices. The benchmark means Florverde® Sustainable Flowers meets all of GLOBALG.A.P.’s requirements for flowers and ornamentals, and enables growers to receive both certifications in one single audit. In 2013, a mutual acknowledgement agreement was signed between Florverde® certification scheme and Rainforest Alliance Certified. This means Approved Certification Bodies, and the certification body in charge of auditing the two schemes, can review both standards in one single inspection, through unified checklists. Qualification systems for both schemes remained, which explains that the producer will receive two separate certificates. Certified growers will use both certification labels, with the message “We share common ground”.

Future Plans Florverde

Florverde has many plans in the pipeline for the future. ”. Firstly, they would like to position their name and label in the country. Then, they want to expand their market within Colombia and in other countries. At the moment, 52 Colombian growers hold a certification, this is 39% of the total Colombian flower exports. “From now to 2020, we would like to rise 10% every year. Besides that, we would like to support growers from other countries in the tropical area, like Costa Rica and Ecuador. Finally, they will add new topics and regulations, like climate change and carbon footprint to their scheme in the future.

For more information:
Florverde® Sustainable Flowers
Ximena Franco
Email: xfranco@Florverde.org
www.florverde.org


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