What it Means to Give Roses this Valentine's Day

    Colombian Workers Benefit From Flower Gift-Giving

    BOGOTA, Colombia, Feb. 11 /CNW/ -- Soon, flower retailers will be abuzz
filling all the flower orders in time for Valentine's Day. This is good news
for the more than 45,000 Colombians working for the more than 163 Florverde(R)
farms. The Colombian flower industry and Florverde growers depend upon
Valentine's Day flower exports - which make up 20 percent of annual shipments
- to help support the many social programs that help provide a better quality
of life for workers and their families.

    "Colombia's flower industry not only produces beautiful, fresh-cut blooms
for the world to enjoy, it also produces hope and opportunity for thousands of
Colombian families," said Augusto Solano, President of the Association of
Colombian Flower Exporters, Asocolflores.  "Sales of flowers at Valentine's
Day support a variety of social programs ranging from education and training
to health care and housing."

    Commitment to Social Development
    Information collected through Florverde(R) helps in determining needs and
planning social programs designed to improve the quality of life of flower
workers and their families. Current programs in place on many Florverde(R)
participant farms include:

    --  Continued Education Program - Aimed at eradicating illiteracy among
        flower workers, more than 1,700 workers participated in literacy,
        elementary and secondary education programs in 2007.
    --  Flowers are Home Program - Conducted in cooperation with subsidized
        housing programs and public-private partnerships to help workers
        purchase and improve their homes, this program has benefited more than
        6000 workers since its inception in 2002 - with more than 2,000
        families receiving a subsidy toward purchasing a home, and a goal of
        helping 20,000 families purchase their own homes in the next ten
    --  Childcare Program - Consisting of high-quality childcare centers on or
        near farms that provide daycare services for children while their
        parents work, more than 18,000 children benefited from this program in
        2007, which is run jointly with the Colombian Institute for Family
        Welfare (ICBF).
    --  Oral Health Program - Approximately 35,000 area children between the
        ages of four and twelve have participated in this program and received
        instruction on proper dental hygiene.
    --  School of Floriculture for Displaced and Vulnerable Colombians - With
        the support of the United States Agency for International Development
        (USAID) and Florverde-certified flower farms, this program enables
        families displaced by violence in the countryside to find jobs,
        generate income and recover dignity. Those who join begin as
        apprentices and earn a salary, while learning flower-growing skills
        techniques. After one year of training, apprentices can become
        permanent workers on flower farms.
    --  Cultivating Peace in the Family - Also supported by USAID, Cultivating
        Peace is contributing to building peace and tackling violence in
        Colombia. The program teaches workers to manage conflict in peaceful
        ways in the family, work and community. Since 2000, approximately
        50,000 workers and their families have received training in workshops.

    In addition to established social programs, Florverde(R) farms offer
additional benefits to workers as well as strict compliance with U.S. and
global environmental and social standards.

    --  On-site medical assistance and clean drinking water, dining rooms, hot
        meals, restrooms and changing rooms.
    --  Discrimination of all types, including gender bias, is prohibited in
        both hiring and on-going employment
    --  Chemical risk prevention programs and ergonomic equipment designed to
        protect workers.
    --  Florverde(R) farms provide their workers with health insurance,
        disability and retirement benefits.
    --  The average work week in member companies is 46.5 hours vs. the legal
        work week of 48 hours. The average wage of workers in member companies
        is 20 percent over the minimum legal wage.
    --  Workers on Florverde(R)-certified farms are required to be over 18
        years old.
    --  Half of all Florverde(R) companies have a Cooperative Worker
        Association, similar to credit unions, which allow workers to save a
        portion of their salary each month and receive small mortgage credits.
    --  Many Florverde(R)-certified companies provide employees and their
        families with time for sports and other recreational activities.
    --  More than 50% of the water consumption at Florverde(R)-certified
        companies comes from rainwater, conserving groundwater resources.

    Websites: www.asocolflores.org, www.florverde.org, www.ceniflores.org


For further information:

For further information: Jairo Cadavid: jcadavid@asocolflores.org, or
Natalia Ochoa: comunicaciones@asocolflores.org, + 57-1-257-9311, Ext: 0115 -
160 (891 0962), both of Asocolflores; or Shawn Campbell Zurawski of Circle
Public Relations, +1-815-730-1772, shawn@circlepublicrelations.com Web Site:

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