Ecuador floriculture in uncertainty due to continuing crisis
The Good years for Ecuadorian flowers have been left behind. In 2015, the sector experienced a number of difficulties that complicated activity mainly related to oversupply in the international market and the difficulty of adjusting domestic production to such excesses.
In 2014 a volume of 160,000 tons was achieved and 2015 would closed at about 158,000 tonnes. The estimate is that 2015 Expoflores close with a reduction in value of 5% to 8% of exports in relation to 2014.
For 2016, the Valentine season will be crucial for decision-making. Alejandro Martinez, president of Expoflores.
January 20th is one of the most important dates for Tabacundo and Cayambe, two cantons of Ecuador’s Pichincha Province with the highest production of Ecuadorian flowers. This is the start of output of the best farm products to foreign countries mainly because of the forthcoming Valentine's Day and Women’s Day.
Normally this week would see much hustle and bustle, double shifts and mass hiring in at least 200 farms dedicated to address this high season.
"Last year we were so busy with the first shipments to the United States. I hope we will revive because there is a union problem caused by layoffs, "said Milton Gallo, president of the Association Rosa Tabacundo small producers and marketers.
The volume of weekly production by the members of the guild fell in the last six months from 1000 to 100 boxes per week, Gallo points out. The decline is due to changes in international prices and consumer behavior, notes: "The Russians tell us that exports have became more expensive due to the collapse of oil. The flower is a luxury and they would prefer to dwell on the Russian food crisis ".
Vendors claim that there are "consequences" chain. Patricio Gallo, who caters to plantations in both cantons, for example, testifies that "they have been suspending scheduled maintenance and are no longer replacing plastic greenhouses, but only repairing."
The weakest link in the production chain is the worker, who has lost his job. This is clearly illustrated by the numbers of agricultural workers demanding their severance pay. You will find them every day shut out at the doorsteps of numerous farms which are having consistent layoffs. This as confirmed by La Hora in three farms located at San Francisco and Tabacundo and also at the access road to the neighborhood Puruhanta
The massive layoffs whih have been caused by lack of demand among other factors, have naturally led to a number of social consequences.
Employment in the sector
Ecuador's flower sector directly employs some 58,000 people with a similar number of indirect jobs. From November 2014 to December 2015 about 3,000 people lost their jobs. Martinez says that the sector hopes to keep their workers for several reasons. One is out of humanity considering the effects on unemployment. Another is recovering the human talent would be an uphill task since many people are good at their jobs.
The idea of retaining workers it has led to reassignment of staff so not all necessarily have to go. For example, each hectare requires 10 people, but efforts have been made to pass about eight other areas, because if production increases it would require additional staff to harvest but less for cultivation.
Considering this fact, the wage bill becomes a limiting factor for employers in floriculture. This is because the minimum wage is much higher compared to other countries in the region. On average $138 more, only difference being that the salary in Ecuador covers 40 hours and that of other countries is 48 working hours. This creates a major difference in the cost of labor. Martinez said it was not a matter of lowering salaries, but to interpret productivity differently.
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Article courtesy of www.ubicatv.com