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Colombia's banana sector will have a new biosafety laboratory

Banana exports from northern Colombia declined after the Fusarium (R4T) was detected in this area in August 2019. Shipments from La Guajira fell by 44.4% when compared to 2018, exports from Bolivar decreased by 5.4%, and those from Cesar fell by 16.1%. Magdalena's banana exports amounted to $317,972 in 2019, contributing 1% of total sales abroad.

Jose Francisco Zuñiga, president of Asbama, the banana union of Magdalena and La Guajira, the area where the fungus was detected, spoke about how they have treated the disease and about the effects it has had in the region. “There was an effect on exports because there are 185 hectares that stopped producing. Despite this, the general production balance is positive. Last year, 32,500 containers were exported, which is the same amount that was exported from the departments of Magdalena, Cesar, and Guajira in 2018,” he stated.

Our goal this year is to contain the Fusarium in the northern region, maintain the volume of exports and, at least, achieve the same value as in the last two years. Renewals must also be taken into account so for the reactivation of trade projects in this region, which were not executed in 2019 due to the threat of the fungus. "If the conditions are right, this year's exports could grow by 5 or 10% over the previous year," Zuñiga said.

He also highlighted the actions they've carried out to manage the plague. "Following ICA's emergency decree, the banana sector's quick reaction improved the resilience of the sector and strengthened the safety protocols of the farms affected by the fungus, and even of the farms where the fungus is not present," he added.

Zuñiga said that the actions that have been taken include the implementation of booths and unique points of entry to the farms, as established by the regulations in these cases. This guarantees that the same disinfection process is carried out when entering or exiting any of these farms.

"Every farm that was not infected made significant investments and, according to estimates, each of them has allocated at least 70 million pesos to mitigate the impact," he said.

A laboratory is currently being built at Agrosavia's facilities in the banana zone. This laboratory, which will be inaugurated in 3 months, will help establish greater control over biosecurity standards, sample analysis, and threats against fruit, such as Fusarium.



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