The Rose Industry of Ecuador

Ecuador is the world’s third-largest exporter of cut flowers, close to 73% of which are roses. In 2013, the industry employed 103,000 people and generated $837m worth of business. In 2019, the Netherlands was the number one producer and exporter of cut flowers in the world. Colombia and Ecuador came in at second and third place, respectively.

In Ecuador, women make up the vast majority of rose workers. This has shifted social dynamics in the Andean region considerably; given that prior to the rose industry, men were employed in salaried positions while most women were in charge of domestic and small-scale agricultural work.

Even though the cut-flower economy necessitated the employment of these women in large numbers–and paid them higher wages in comparison to other sectors–the rose industry remains a rapid-paced, time-sensitive and labour-intensive one.

During the peak season of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day; workers are expected to meet high levels of productivity that exceed the 40-hour work week. It is during this peak period that more than half of all annual turnover is generated.

Rose Symbolism

Depending on who you ask, the Rose may well wear the crown as the Queen of All Flowers. The Rose is a symbol of love, purity and prosperity. Apart from being renowned for its beauty, the Rose has many medicinal properties.

Rose petals are mild sedatives, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic. They provide a good supportive tonic for the heart and are great for lowering cholesterol. The antiseptic nature of rose petals has made them a wonder drug for: wounds, bruises, rashes and incisions.

After the Christianisation of the Roman Empire, the rose became identified with the Blessed Virgin Mary. The colour of the rose and the number of roses received has symbolic representation. The rose symbol eventually led to the creation of the rosary and other devotional prayers in Christianity.

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