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Cut flowers industry in Pedro Moncayo, Ecuador


Ecuador is the number one rose growing nation in the world. Flower export production began in the mid-1980s under a period of neo-liberal economic reform and rapidly became the fourth largest export product. This industry is mainly concentrated in the highland region of the country, specifically in the cantons of Pedro Moncayo and Cayambe (province of Pichincha). This populated area is the traditional locale of an indigenous population self-recognized as Pueblo Kayambi (Kayambi Peoples), who belongs to the Kichwa Indigenous Nationality. This population bases its livelihood on small-scale agriculture combined with wages from employment in the diverse flower plantations. Since its development, the flower industry practices have been completely unregulated resulting in the use of highly toxic chemicals, improper disposal of toxic waste, contamination of soil, water, etc.. Most flower companies use fumigation several times a week, using products that have been banned in Europe and North America. Despite the fact that since 2003, the national government issued national environmental legislation which obligated the flower companies to obtain environmental licenses, it was not enforced at the local level. As a consequence, in 2009 not one of the total 148 rose companies operating in Pedro Moncayo had environmental an license. In the absence of municipal government enforcement of national laws, grassroots organizations mobilized to demand local regulation of flower industry practices.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Cut flowers industry in Pedro Moncayo, Ecuador
State or province:Pichincha
Location of conflict:Pedro Moncayo
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Specific commodities:Cut flowers
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The area cultivated with flowers in Pedro Moncayo is approximately 1000 hectares (30% of total flower national exports). Flower production is a high-tech industry characterized as harsh and exploitative due to its reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides and flexible labor contracts which hinder labor organizing. Normally young women work in these flower plantations. The industry is also water intensive. While one small scale farmers requires 1000 liters/month/hectare, flower plantations use 900,000-1,000,000 liters/month/hectare.

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Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:2009
Company names or state enterprises:Many flower growers, gathered in the association Expoflores - //
Relevant government actors:Environment Ministry; Secretara Nacional de Pueblos , Pedro Moncayo council
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:UCCIBT (Unin de Comunidades, Campesinas, Indgenas y Barrios de Tabacundo; Union of Indigenous Peasant Communities and, Neighborhoods of Tabacundo)
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Neighbours/citizens/communities
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
They began a community watch group (veeduria comunitara) with the objective to monitor compliance with obtaining environmental licenses and demonstrate the lack of a sentiment on the part of flower companies to prevent pollution.
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Application of existing regulations
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The community group has succeeded in calling attention to the issue of the flower industries polluting practices and their non-compliance with Ecuadorian environmental legislation. As a result of their collective action in August 2011, 75% of flower companies in Pedro Moncayo have their licenses. Therefore, they succeed in raising Flower industries compliance rates with environmental impact reports and regulating the use and disposal of pesticides.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Ley de gestion Ambiental (Environmental Management Law); Environmental License.

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Korovkin, Tanya. 2005. Creating a Social Wasteland? Non-traditional Agricultural Exports and Rural Poverty in Ecuador. Revista Europea de Estudios Latinoamericanos y del Caribe 79(1): 47-68.
[click to view]

Breilh, Jaime y otros. 2005. La floricultura y el dilema de la salud: por una flor justa y

ecolgica. Centro de Estudios y Asesora en Salud, CEAS. En: Informe alternativo sobre

la salud en America Latina. Cuenca.

Korovkin, Tanya. 2003. Cut-Flower Exports, Female Labor, and Community Participation in Highland Ecuador. Latin American Perspectives 131(30): 18-42.

Korovkin, Tanya and Olga Sanmiguel-Valdaramma. 2007. Labor Standards, Global Markets and Non- State Initiatives: Colombias and Ecuadors Flower Industries in Comparative Perspective.Third World Quarterly 28(1): 117-135.

Sawers, Larry. 2005. Nontraditional or New Traditional Exports: Ecuadors Flower Boom. Latin American Research Review 40(3): 40-66.

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Contributor:Sara Latorre
Last update08/04/2014
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