Posts Tagged “ecuador”
Guest Blogger: Sabrina Mesa
During my trip to Quito, Ecuador last year, I had a chance to visit farms, attend an international floral expo and meet some great floral people. During one of our tours of the city, we stopped at an impressive city square where designers had decorated over 10 bicycles with colorful roses, spray roses, spider mums and accent elements such as gypsophilia, hypericum, eryngium and solidaster. Each one was different and beautiful. The entire square was guarded by police and government security to ensure that these art pieces were unharmed for the days they were on display. The square was surrounded by restaurants, cafes and shops. One of our floral friends was even interviewed by the local media. I personally could not stop taking pictures of these arrangements on two wheels. Here are some of my favorite ones.
When I was working at a flower shop, I seldom paid attention to international treaties and agreements. They never seemed to affect me and the business I was doing day in and day out. Those things were always about something out of my world. All I cared about was what the price of flowers at my local wholesale house. We get frustrated sometimes when we see high prices. We get upset because price is a big deal to us. After walking through greenhouses and talking to not only the owners but workers in Ecuador, there was a constant echo of one major concern, the fear of non-renewal of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act or simply ATPDEA.
So what exactly is ATPDEA?
In 1991 President George H.W. Bush enacted the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) that eliminated tariffs on several products coming in from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. This act was to promote legal crops, as these countries were struggling with drug production and trafficking. In 2002 President George W. Bush renewed the act under the name Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) which increased the items covered from around 5,600 to approximately 6,300 items. After several renewals throughout the Bush administration the President asked congress to remove Bolivia due to failure to uphold agreements to assist in counter-narcotic efforts in the country.
The ATPDEA allowed for products, and more importantly flowers, to come into the country with no tax and the US increased their exports into all three countries. They exported supplies needed for the cultivation of flowers. It was a Win-Win situation for both countries. There was a boom in Ecuador that allowed for flowers farms to flourish. (See my previous post for some more insight of the effects of rose farms in Ecuador)
In February of 2011 the act expired and the tax was implemented. This caused a ripple affect across the US from wholesale house down to the consumer. Roses incoming from Ecuador were subject to a tax which we at Mayesh absorbed part of. It was a tough few months till negotiations finally renewed the act mid November 2011. The act is currently set up to expire May of 2013.
Why is it important to you?
If the ATPDEA is not renewed next year we are in for a huge price hike on all products incoming from Ecuador. Higher prices mean having to change pricing at the local flower shop level and we all know how difficult it is to explain why prices all of a sudden are higher than normal. I remember going through the motions of explaining supply and demand every Valentine’s Day. I am sure many of you have to go through the same thing. It is the only way a shop can survive during the holidays. If they keep their price the same as they do year round they lose their shirt (pardon the expression) that very holiday. Flowers are huge business in this country. If you look at the break down of how much money is generated locally here in the US versus how much money stays in the country of origin it is roughly 80%-90% versus the 20%-10% that stay in the country who produces the product.
“The ATPDEA has provided real benefits for the flower industry in both the United States and Ecuador, as well as for American consumers. There is, however, a risk that the benefits of duty-free flowers from Ecuador will be lost next year. The industry will be working on this in the coming months and we are hopeful that the U.S. Congress will find a way to resolve the issue.”-Ben Powell, COO, CFO Mayesh Wholesale Florist
What can you do to help renew ATPDEA?
ATPDEA is a congressional issue. Now that the election is over, you have a way to reach out to our local congressman and senators and tell them why the ATPDEA is important to you. Here are a few links that will help you find contact information.
The post is just a brief overview of the issue at hand. The best thing is to read about ATPDEA and become informed. For more information check out these links;
The issue also has been covered by some other notable blogs.
More info to come from my Ecuador trip so stay tuned.
Side note: Hopefully in the coming months we will be offering a letter template that will make contacting your government representatives very easy.
Guest Blogger: Sabrina Mesa
Talk about being at the right place at the right time. When the call/invitation came in I just happen to be sitting in the room. After several phone calls back and forth it was decided, Sabrina, you are going to Ecuador for a week. “What?! Really?!” Was all I could muster. Going to South America always feels like a step towards home. Both of my parents are from Chile, so the South American culture and people are near and dear to my heart. Thankfully I not only picked up the culture but also the language, which came in handy during my entire trip.
Mayesh had been invited to be part of a group of “Floral Opinion Leaders” chosen by Ramiro of Flowers for Kids to tour farms, attend the FlorEcuador Show and meet with government officials to discuss the ATPDEA and the importance of trying to add Roses to the GSP (more on that to come.) He chose people with diverse floral backgrounds; Ryan Freeman from FlowerChat, Kym Erickson from Soderberg’s Florist and the Minnesota State Florist Association, Katie Hendrick from SAF, “Mr. Cold Chain” Terry Johnson, Cathie Giuffrida who is the VP on the Connecticut Florist Association Board of Directors and Bill and Maggie Schodowski from Florist Buying Club. All of us are different but we have one major thing in common, we all live and breathe the floral industry. We Love Flowers! (If any of you are reading this please know that it was a honor to travel and learn with you all.)
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
The rose is not just a rose in the country of Ecuador. It is a symbol of national pride. From the moment one steps off the plane in Quito you see a large bouquet of roses greeting you at the migration sector. As long lines of people – both visitors and nationals – form, I looked in awe at the long stem large headed roses elegantly displayed in the lobby. This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg of product to come during my visit to this diverse country. Roses are everywhere – from the roadside markets to the 4 star hotel, from the small family run restaurants to the fine dining restaurants like Pavarotti’s (where yes many pictures of the signer hang and his music fills the dining area.)
Picture Comment: Every night a single long stem rose graced my pillow along with a small chocolate. By the time I checked out I had quite a few open roses sitting in a cup.
Roses have so much meaning and emotion behind them when they are given in the states. They can mean the start of a new love or the remembrance of a love lost. According to the language of flowers, roses have specific meaning according to their color. Once used to convey messages in secret, the rose has become a very public display of adoration and affection. One could argue that roses are not practical because they, like all fresh cut flowers, eventually die – such a silly way of thinking. Roses are one of those luxury items we enjoy for the moment like a great chocolate truffle or a good coffee.
I have to admit that I had no idea what to expect on this trip to Ecuador. Would I see the Ecuador of The Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart? She painted such a bleak picture of working conditions and of all negative aspects of the cut flower industry. Will I see behind the curtains and find poor labor conditions, sickness due to pesticide use? No, I would find nothing bleak or disheartening. I found hope and care behind that large curtain, with beautiful roses at the heart of it all. That hope is given in the form of a living wage that allows for women to step out of the home and into the workplace. Workers are even given medical attention that includes preventative care. One of the farms (Greenrose) even offers women birth control at no cost if they so choose. Imagine all of the fighting here in the states about women and their rights and Ecuador is empowering women to makes choices for themselves and their wellbeing. Amazing and simply awe inspiring. Each farm I visited was more impressive than the next. They take everything into consideration including fun. Soccer fields, locker rooms, medical staff even job rotation. These farm owners do not just see workers; they see people whose needs surpass just the need for a wage. I saw owners address workers by name and a smile. Not a fake “I need to impress these people” smile but a genuine smile that said you do not just work for me but we work together and we need each other. Some workers stay at farms for over 10 years! That is what I call loyalty.
I know I cannot work on an empty stomach. My writing gets messy and my whole attitude changes when I have not had my breakfast or lunch. That is just me in a home office setting. I cannot imagine being a worker on one of these farms who was hungry. The work is hard and the hours long. People need all types of fuel to function and Rosaprima knocked my socks off when they accidently served us what their workers ate that very day. Freshly made French fries, steamed vegetables, fresh tomato and a chicken breast that has been flattened and cooked over a stove top with a great mix of subtle spices. Sounds like a great meal right? It was delicious and full of nutrition and more importantly it was full of flavor. They had forgotten to organize a meal for us and offered the workers meal in replacement of a special catered lunch. I know that I would have not had known the difference. These small details made a huge difference forming my opinion on Ecuador and their floricultural industry.
Roses make us feel good when we receive them but a rose in Ecuador puts food on a family’s table, provides healthcare, an education for children and sustainability for entire communities. Roses are the heart and pride of Ecuador. I am ever changed by my trip and I cannot wait to share even more of my experience with you all.
Stay tuned…this story is just beginning.
So before we get to the gorgeous eye candy that Sabrina has to share with you, I wanted to start by saying about 4 weeks ago, I was contacted by Ramiro Peñaherrera, whom you may know as he is the director of Flowers For Kids. He was recruiting a group of bloggers and writers to go down to Ecuador to attend the FlorEcuador/Agriflor show in Quito and tour a few farms. I was so excited to be given such an opportunity, but realized that I couldn’t go as I had personal travel plans already booked. Fortunately, my team member, Sabrina Mesa was able to go and I cannot wait to share with you all of the great content that she was able to gather! A big shout out and thank you to Ramiro for thinking of Mayesh! Enjoy and stay tuned!
Blogger: Sabrina Mesa
I just could not wait to share some of these awesome pictures with you all! Last week I was in Ecuador attending a tour of farms as well as attending the FlorEcuador/Agriflor show in Quito. One of my favorite farms was Rosaprima.
Located in Cayambe which is a little over an hour drive from Quito. Rosaprima is one of the largest farms in the area. Some pretty impressive stats:
- 17 years in business
- 70 hectares or 172.97 acres of land
- 800 employees
- 36,000,000 stems per year grown
- 120 rose varieties
My favorite part of the tour was the testing greenhouse containing possible future production roses. All of the varieties below are in testing phase and are only known as numbers. Aren’t they beautiful? These pictures are just a handful of varieties that I found intriguing. Many of these varieties will never go into production for one reason or another. The entire greenhouse is filled with new and amazing roses.
More info on this farm and all of the other farms I visited on my trip to Ecuador coming to you soon.
And don’t forget while browsing the images below: these are NOT available and may never be, BUT if they do eventually make it to commercial production, we will let you know!