- Fairtrade Africa is improving workers at flower farms
- Workers are skilled in diverse vocational skills
Ann Mbuthia, Administration Manager at Aurum Roses Limited a flower farm company in Entebbe, Wakiso district has encouraged employers in the country not to shy away from equipping workers with multiple hands-on skills fearing that they will resign and venture into other businesses.
She says that workers workers will always have choices to make in and outside their known workplaces. Some choose to stay while others continue to seek greener pastures. Mbuthia adds that this should not be reason enough to deny them opportunities.
‘’Many of the workers at the flower farm are semi-skilled, and as a company, we also seek to better their skills by providing avenues for them to boost their CVs as well as their income,’’ she says
In an exclusive interview with Capital Radio, Mbuthia further explains that at Aurum Roses through the Fairtrade Africa initiative, Workers have been furnished with vocational skills and graduated in different courses including tailoring, computer science, and baking among others. This skilling project is aimed at improving their livelihoods but also makes them more helpful in the different communities where they reside.
Fairtrade Africa is part of a global body that seeks to combat social injustices of conventional trade by supporting small-scale farm owners and their workers to secure better terms of trade.
She says since Aurum Roses joined Fairtrade Africa five years back, the lives of her 208 workers at the farm have greatly improved. The initiative enhances workers' livelihoods and is strictly monitored by inspectors. The inspectors look out for acceptable chemicals used on the farm, workers are wearing their protective gear, tax payments, salary and bonus payments for the workers, and general work conditions at the flower farms. Any non-compliance observed can attract withdrawal of their certificate.
Mbuthia adds that Fairtrade Africa's benefits are not restricted to workers but to the flower farm as well. "Our flowers sell better when they are Fair Trade Certified than those that are not." she intimates.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Fairtrade Africa really supported the company with Personal Protective Equipment, Sanitiser, and some financial support. She confirms that Fair Trade Africa was helpful and the company managed to run through with minimal sales, but was able to maintain all their workers.
Nakasuma Ruth, a worker who is also an administrator and trustee of the Aurum Roses worker’s association revealed that through the Fairtrade Africa premium, workers have been able to establish some projects that are benefiting them and their communities.
‘’The premium caters to projects such as home improvement. Under this project, workers borrow money to buy specific items that could improve their homes. This money is paid back into through very manageable deductions from their salaries.’’ Nakasuma said.
She also adds that Fairtrade Africa usually advises the committee members to involve themselves in projects that are sustainable. This has seen them acquire a bus in Hoima, a truck Tents, chairs, and a public address system for hire. These projects help in income generation hence growing their fund." She said.
A member of the committee Sarah Nassuna, says that this income generated from the Fairtrade Premium continues to be essential as it helps them to engage in community developments. For example, they bought uniforms and scholastic materials for pupils at their community school. They have also bought land on which they intend to build an institute which they project will see more people in the community employed.