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Beutler, Thomas, 2020. A thorny business : a study of how workers on kenyan fairtrade and conventional cut flower farms experience their working conditions: The cases of Timau Region. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



Roses and other cut flowers from Kenya can be found in innumerable European and Asian supermarkets, floristry shops and online mail-order firms. The importance of the floricultural sector is fundamental for the Kenyan economy. However, during the last two decades, international media and scientific reports have pointed out the problematic working conditions and negative environmental impacts of the industry. In response, at the beginning of the 21st century, the international Fairtrade initiative came into the picture to improve the problematic production impacts of the sector. The Fairtrade initiative has a broadly positive reputation and quantitative data show an improvement in production manners. Nevertheless, it remains unclear if and how Fairtrade is perceived and experienced by ordinary workers on a subjective level. This study examines whether Fairtrade initiatives are an attainment for general workers or if they are considered as more of a top-down development approach. Through a qualitative, phenomenological inspired research design, a comparison of working conditions on a Fairtrade and non-Fairtrade cut flower farm is done on a local micro level. Results show that the Fairtrade initiative on the examined farm is perceived and experienced as rather negative and inhuman while, on the contrary, workers on the non-Fairtrade farm reported their conditions as positive in comparison. Also, the empirical data shows that this specific Fairtrade farm might not be an individual case in Kenya. Due to weak compliance with international Fairtrade standards and national legislation, workers and worker’s unions point out lacks in the Fairtrade system in the cut flower business in general. Therefore, starting from this study’s results on worker’s subjective negative experience of their working conditions, a broader, mixed method study on a meta level is required. Meanwhile, the Fairtrade initiative should re-evaluate its standards and inspection systems to prevent the dilution of its own standards and reputation.

Main title:A thorny business
Subtitle:a study of how workers on kenyan fairtrade and conventional cut flower farms experience their working conditions: The cases of Timau Region
Authors:Beutler, Thomas
Supervisor:Bartholdson, Örjan
Examiner:Hansen, Kjell
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2020
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM009 Rural Development and Natural Resource Management - Master's Programme 120 HEC
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:working conditions, Kenya, fairtrade, cut flower, lifeworld
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Development economics and policies
Deposited On:09 Oct 2020 09:21
Metadata Last Modified:10 Oct 2020 01:02

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