Ecuador Tours and Expeditions Agency

Flowers in Cayambe

The area of the Canton ranges from 1,730 to 4,300 meters above sea level (IGM maps, 1996), with an average annual temperature of 13.7ºC, with maximum values of 25.6ºC and minimums of 3ºC (table 4 and maps 4 and 52). Its average annual precipitation ranges from 400 mm to 1300 mm (table 4 and graph 4) with a dry period between the months of July and October 3, which represents a water deficit of 0 to 330 mm. In addition, the Canton of Cayambe has 4 meteorological stations, the information from two of them allows for a climate characterization. The Olmedo – Pichincha Station is located at 3,120 meters above sea level, the climate in general is cold with an average of 16°C. The presence of the Cayambe volcano stands out, which influences the climatic conditions and agricultural possibilities of the area. The climate is characterized by a summer season that includes the months of June, July, August, and September with average monthly precipitation of 23mm, and a longer winter season throughout the rest of the year, with monthly average rainfall of up to 100mm.

The monthly average temperatures have very little variation, between 11.5°C and 12°C, with an average annual temperature of 11.6°C. The climatic and geographical situation of this Canton allows for the growth of various species of flora, which is taken advantage of by exporters due to the beauty of various flowers that grow in the area.

El Comercio (20 Febrero 2023)

Flores Ecuatorianas de Calidad S.A. Florecal is a company in Ecuador, with its main headquarters in Cayambe. It operates in the floriculture sector. The company was founded on September 20, 1991. Currently, it employs 448 people (2021). In its latest notable financial aspects, Flores Ecuatorianas de Calidad S.A. Florecal reported a 41.6% increase in net income in 2021. Its Total Assets recorded a growth of 3.05%.

Starting in the 1980s, investors identified a significant competitive advantage in the lands of Cayambe and Pedro Moncayo: the incidence of perpendicular sun rays at heights between 2700 and 3000 meters above sea level generates high-quality flowers, especially roses, which can position the product even globally. Foreign and Ecuadorian investors and entrepreneurs began to establish rose plantations on estates that until then were used for cattle breeding and milk production. They took advantage of existing irrigation and initially cheap labor from the area, and even generated migration from other places, in a country with high levels of underemployment. With all these advantages, a product was created that could compete abroad. With significant demand, the generated foreign exchange strengthened these entrepreneurs and their companies without at least part of it being channeled into the areas where they were installed.

Flower exports have grown steadily since the 1990s, with small declines in 2008 and 2014-2016. According to Expoflores (Expoflores: 2018), Ecuador has a 9% share of the world quota behind Colombia (15%) and the Netherlands (52%). Flowers are one of Ecuador’s main non-oil export products: after bananas, shrimp, and tuna, they make up 4.8% of the country’s exports. Roses predominate in these exports with 77% of the exported product, followed by summer flowers, gypsophila, and carnations. The main destinations are the United States (40%), the European Union (20%), and Russia (16%). As shown in the following table, in recent years, flower exports have amounted to around $850 million annually.

Marcelo Quinteros Mena (26 Junio 2012 )

Approximately 160 tons of flowers are exported each year. At the national level, five provinces concentrate 95% of the total flower production. Pichincha is the main producing province with 69.7% (Quishpe B., 2018). The Expoflores hub in Cayambe brings together 28 companies that collectively have 626 hectares of flower production. Most of these companies have more than 50 hectares.

For the past 3-4 years, an interesting process of productive specialization change has been taking place among small flower producers in some communities of the Cayambe Canton, especially in the Olmedo, Ayora, and Cangagua parishes. Small producers who previously worked in milk production and/or short-cycle crops are starting to produce flowers under greenhouses in small spaces of up to one hectare, mostly, but in some cases reaching 4-5 hectares.

This process is taking place almost 30 years after the start of flower exports by large companies. These are community members who have worked for years on these plantations and have learned their productive dynamics. There was a true transfer of technology to small producers, and now they are applying this knowledge to their own plots. They have found that this crop, after the initial high investments, generates greater profitability than milk production and/or short-cycle products, in smaller spaces than those required for other productive specializations. Some of these producers have even installed spaces for post-harvest and flower preparation for export. Most sell their flowers to intermediaries who deliver them to large companies or facilities that prepare and export them. In Olmedo, there are small plantations in Pesillo, La Chimba, Moyurco, and a large one in Puliza. In Ayora, in Cariacu, Paquiestancia, and with a greater presence in Santo Domingo de Guzmán, Santo Domingo 1 and 2. In Cangagua, the community of Carrera has the majority of its members dedicated to floriculture, in Pitaná alto and Izacata.

This process of expanding flower production in communities has generated some contradictions. Although profits are higher, these plantations require more irrigation water, which is administered communally, so the question is whether these community members should pay more for water. Similarly, the question is how far the cultivation of flowers can be allowed on a small property. If it is done on the entire property, how can self-sufficiency be guaranteed with one’s own agricultural and/or livestock production? In some communities, internal regulations have been defined regarding these issues. Another aspect to consider is the high level of use of chemical inputs and their impact on the environment. At the moment, there is no control by any entity regarding this issue.

El Universo (12 Febrero 2019)

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