The flower industry is huge but it is one of those that flies under the radar. We don’t think of it as a global industry but that’s what it is. China currently has a flower industry worth in excess of $ 20 billion annually (up from close to zero twenty years back). The global export industry is worth around $20 billion with the UK alone importing around $1 billions worth each year.
When we industrialise and urbanise we buy cut flowers. The majority of cut flowers are grown in places like this above. This is Laikipia, about a three hour drive north of Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
As you can see it is Equatorial, very dry and very poor.
That animal in the middle photo is dying. The only food left for it is a rogue cactus that was planted in the 1950s and now dominates the landscape, driving out local vegetation that has a hard enough time growing in the dry heat of a much warmer world.
Cattle cannot digest the cactus. They eat and they still starve.
Most florists assume their flowers come from Holland and technically that is not untrue. They move around the world via the Dutch flower auction just outside Amsterdam. It is held each morning at around 5.00 am and is attended by wholesalers from across the world.
Flowers have made quite a few billionaires out there.
Nonetheless, they are grown in conditions that leave workers impoverished to a degree that would surprise us if more were known.
We need to support the flower industry but it would be great were it possible for some equality to emerge for the people whose water we are admiring in the shape, scent and texture of our flowers.
Just providing enough water extraction, storage and irrigation for the local population would make for a fairer world.