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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 13:35 GMT
Love Kenya roses, romantics urged
Kenyan roses
The Kenyan flower industry employs 100,000 people
Valentine's Day romantics planning to say it with flowers are being urged to buy roses from Kenya to help the troubled country.

The UK government says buying flowers from developing countries creates jobs and reduces poverty.

A recent study indicated roses flown to the UK from Kenya produced fewer emissions than roses grown in Holland in heated greenhouses.

But campaigners say some workers suffer long hours in poor conditions.

"Everyone can make a difference on Valentine's Day including to the lives of Kenyan farmers who, given the current political crisis in the country," International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander said.

"They have been working so hard in such difficult conditions to ensure their flowers reach the market in time for 14 February," the minister said.

Several hundred people have been killed in Kenya since December. Ethnic and political violence began after the disputed Presidential elections.

'Workers exploited'

Kenyan roses
In the run-up to Valentine's Day, some work up to 14 hours a day
Paul Collins, War on Want

Poverty campaigners argue some workers picking and packing flowers are being exploited.

"Our focus is on workers on these farms, mainly single mothers, who in the run-up to Valentine's Day work up to 14 hours a day," War on Want's Paul Collins said.

"They receive a wage that is not enough to pay for housing and healthcare," he said.

He urges British shoppers to buy roses with a Fairtrade label for their loved one, to help ensure workers receive better pay.

Growing industry

However, the Department for International Development said the average wage amongst Kenyan flower workers was 45 a month, well above the 25 minimum wage.

Valentine's Day and Mother's Day are crucial to Kenya's flower-growing industry. It makes more money in February and March than the rest of the year combined.

The sector employs 100,000 Kenyans directly and an estimated 2 million indirectly, according to the Kenya Flower Council.

How much do love's labours cost?
11 Feb 08 |  Business
Cost warning over Valentine roses
12 Feb 08 |  Tayside and Central
How fair is Fairtrade?
07 Mar 07 |  Magazine
Country profile: Kenya
18 Jan 08 |  Country profiles

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