How flower farms survived the June 2022 protests in Ecuador 15-07-2022 / Articles

The national strike that took place in Ecuador between June 13 and 30, 2022 resulted in huge economic losses and created an unsustainable situation for the entire flower sector of the country. The provinces of Cotopaxi and Pichincha, which have the largest number of farms, grow about 2,800 hectares of flowers, which is about 60% of the total exports of roses and flowers from Ecuador. During the days of the national strike called by the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador, small, medium and large flower growers could hardly export their products. Only 20% of the flowers collected in those days were able to leave the provinces of Cotopaxi and Pichincha for further deliveries to customers in other countries.

Foto: Expoflores Foto: Expoflores

The flower sector was in a very difficult situation, since rose cutting takes place every day, cold stores were filled with flowers that could not subsequently be sent and delivered to transport companies, which led to economic losses and an extremely unfavorable situation for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs. Small farms were especially vulnerable, risking bankruptcy due to the inability to export their goods and pay salaries to employees.

The flower industry in Ecuador has been hardest hit by the strikes as most roads and highways have been closed or blocked, making it impossible to deliver supplies to airports. From the very first day of the mobilization of indigenous peoples, some trucks were detained by protesters, their wheels were pierced, windows were broken, and cargo was burned. The same trucks that managed to get through were forced to use detour routes, which lengthened travel times, sometimes up to 24 hours. Accordingly, very often this led to a delay in the delivery of goods on certain flights and customers were left without completed orders. A number of plantations were forced to cooperate and find alternative ways to deliver flowers to transport companies, in particular, private helicopters were hired. The increase in costs and risks for the delivery of goods to airports provoked an increase in prices for flowers to an uncharacteristic level for this time of year. So the losses of the flower sector amounted to about two million dollars a day.

Foto: Expoflores

The demonstrators also threatened plantation workers and prevented them from entering their workplaces. Workers were sent threats on mobile phones and social networks, demanding to join the strike. Protesters illegally entered the plantations, insisting that production be stopped and employees join the protests. Many plantations have made the decision not to come to the farms for several days.

Due to road closures and the impossibility of delivering goods, a number of plantations experienced a shortage of packaging material, cardboard boxes, chemicals and fertilizers, which also made normal work impossible.

Foto: Expoflores

Fortunately, on June 30, 2022, an agreement was reached between the government of Ecuador and the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador. The mobilization was completed and the roads were unblocked. This was a huge relief for the affected industries, especially the flower sector, which was able to resume operations and exports.