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Colombia to Export 300 Million Stems of Certified Florverde Flowers This Valentine's Day

OCA Editor's Note:  When the OCA first launched its Valentines Campaign three years ago, the majority of flowers imported into the U.S. came from Colombian farms where massive amounts of pesticides were used and farmworkers were treated poorly.  Since then, Florverde Certification is on the rise. This is not an organic certification (see our Valentines Alert Buying Guide for organic flowers), but it is a big step in the right direction for the cut flower industry.

 BOGOTA, Colombia, Jan. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Looking for that "feel-good" gift for Valentine's Day? You won't have to look very far. With 300 million stems of certified Florverde(R) flowers headed to the United States from Colombia, millions of sweethearts can feel good about the flowers they will purchase for the holiday of love. The majority of Colombian flowers shipped to the U.S. are grown on Florverde(R)-certified farms, which are in compliance with stringent U.S social and environmental standards.

 "Everyone can feel confident purchasing flowers this Valentine's Day and everyday," said Augusto Solano, President of the Colombian Association of Flower Exporters (Asocolflores). "Buying flowers supports an international industry that continues to make strides to improve social, environmental, labor and occupational health and safety standards."

 About Florverde(R)
 As the size and influence of the Colombian floriculture industry expands, it continues to enhance working standards to improve the lives of floral workers. Asocolflores is celebrating eleven years of the Florverde(R) program, the unique certification process which was created to improve the lives and living standards of floral farm workers and their families, to preserve and protect the environment for the industry's farmers for generations to come and to ensure high-quality, affordable flowers for consumers year round. Currently 171 Colombian farms, comprising half of the acreage devoted to growing flowers, have qualified for or are in the process of qualifying for Florverde(R) certification.

 Florverde(R)-certified farms use of agricultural chemicals is consistent with U.S. regulations. Workers are educated and trained in the safe use of these chemicals and provided appropriate safety equipment. On-site medical care, dining areas and hot meals are provided. Some farms go beyond specified worker requirements and offer child care, housing subsidies and literacy education.

 Certification is verified by an independent third party, SGS, a renowned international audit company headquartered in Switzerland, widely recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. SGS has worked with such companies as Avon, McDonald's, the GAP and Shopko.

 More About the Colombian Flower Industry
 -- Colombia exported more than one billion dollars worth of flowers world wide in 2007.

 -- Florverde(R) was initially created to enhance overall performance by providing a systemized approach to improve labor conditions and environmental practices.

 -- Initial participation in Florverde(R) is voluntary. Once certified, compliance is mandatory to maintain certification.

 -- Seventy-seven percent of all flowers imported into the U.S. are from Colombia.

 -- In 2006, the U.S. imported 99% of its carnations and alstroemeria, 98% of its mums and 70% of its cut roses from Colombia.

 -- Colombia is the second largest exporter of flowers in the world (after Holland).

 -- In 2006, U.S.-Colombian bilateral trade was an estimated $14.7 billion.

 -- Florverde(R) flowers are grown with 50 percent less pesticides as compared to 1998 usage.

 -- Florverde(R) is the model program for the Ecuadorian flower and Colombian banana industries.

 -- The Colombian flower industry encourages sustainable farming through the use of integrated pest management practices to reduce pesticide use, and encourages drip irrigation, rainwater collection systems and organic fertilization.

 Established in 1973 to represent the interests of the Colombian flower growers in world markets, the Colombian Association of Flower Exporters (Asocolflores) represents more than 70 percent of total Colombian flowers exports.

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