Social and economic upgrading in floriculture global value chains: flowers and cuttings GVCs in Uganda

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Low-income countries are increasingly integrated into the global economy through their participation in global value chains (GVCs). This paper explores the extent to which workers and producers in Uganda have been able to improve their positions in floriculture GVCs over the past decade and the extent to which economic and social upgrading are linked. African flowers and cuttings, though closely related, are two distinct GVCs with different value chain dynamics and different prospects for social and economic upgrading for workers and producers. Both GVCs are closely tied into depressed European markets characterized by more competitive pressures across the GVCs. However, as a result of the different forms of GVC governance, the outcomes for 
Ugandan flowers and cuttings producers have differed. The dynamics of buyer-driven flowers GVCs have exerted downgrading pressures on producers. By contrast, the lead companies in thecaptive and hierarchical cuttings GVCs have enabled upgrading among their suppliers in Uganda. Workers in both cuttings and flowers GVCs have experienced significant social upgrading. Clear 
linkages exist between economic and social upgrading in cuttings. However, the principle drivers of social upgrading and its strong gender equality elements have been collective bargaining and advocacy by Ugandan trade unions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) (backed by European NGOs). In conclusion, we point to areas for further research and possible steps to strengthen economic and social upgrading and their linkages.