Olav Boenders’ story about finding Wagagai poinsettias in the supermarket

The importance of Fairtrade flowers

“This weekend, I was shopping in the PLUS Retail and I bought myself 6 beautiful Fairtrade Poinsettias harvested most probably by our workers in Uganda, as poinsettia almost all originate as a cutting from farms in East-Africa. Most of them originate from Wagagai, as half of all poinsettia in Europe Wagagai produces are for Selecta one,” Olav Boenders, CEO at Wagagai, shared in his recent LinkedIn post. Wagagai is one of the world’s largest cutting propagation companies in Uganda and is working hard towards a more Fairtrade future for its employees.

One of the farmworkers holding a poinsettia  

Salaries in Africa
“I never would promote any Supermarket or our own farm, but this time I have to tell you a story and explain why I believe you should go to the PLUS Retail and buy Fairtrade Poinsettia with Christmas just around the corner. By buying Fairtrade poinsettia, the chances are very high (50%) that you will directly contribute €0.05 per plant to the workers at Wagagai towards a Christmas bonus,” says Boenders.

“Let me try to explain it briefly. Remember that salaries in Africa are at levels we in the West cannot even comprehend. At Wagagai, we do all we can to pay our people a decent prevailing wage and we do so. We are one of the highest-paying farms in Uganda, and proudly so. Recently, we signed a new CBA as an Industry with the Union and have increased the lowest salaries by 17% this year. That by itself is great, especially with the current Covid crisis. Our people have a secure job and increased salaries plus many extra benefits.”

The poinsettias in the supermarket  

A new initiative
“One of them is very special and unique. Since a few years, we have our Fairtrade Cents Bonus. It is a collaboration between Fairtrade International, Fairtrade Nederland (Max Havelaar), Selecta one, and Wagagai. Through this initiative, we are trying to find a systematic solution to increase the salaries at Wagagai to a standard called 'Living Wages'.”

“Since 2017, we are focused on a Pilot in which we add an extra €0.05 per Poinsettia cutting to each cutting sold as Fairtrade. This money goes 100% back to our workers and is paid out as a Christmas bonus to our lowest-paid workers. Our dream would be one day to sell all our poinsettias as Fairtrade or with a Cents bonus included.”

“We are still very far away from that, but in the meantime, we keep trying. This year, we were able to sell close to 1.5 million poinsettias, which is 17% more than last year. Still, this is a fraction of the total amount we produce. In the meantime, we are now able to pay out close to €75.000 as an extra bonus to well over 1600 workers, through this initiative.”

Consumer impact
“So, by buying Fairtrade Poinsettias, you surely will contribute to an increased income for workers in Africa; as a consumer, you can have an impact. You can ask for Fairtrade Poinsettias, and if they do not have them this year, just ask your supermarket to offer them to you next year. Hopefully, little by little, we can increase the volumes of Fairtrade sales together,” Boenders says.

“I know this is a long story for just one item, for one product in the shop. Just realize that behind every product in the shop there is a similar story. Please think about that when you consume and please go out there and buy Fairtrade Poinsettia this Christmas,” Boenders prompts consumers.

For more information:
Olav Boenders

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