The coronavirus pandemic has posed a challenge to the Colombian agricultural sector, highlighting its productive strength, supported by different government programs, and the need to find new marketing channels.
“2020 started very well for the economy in general, which grew by more than 4% between January and February, and the sector had significant participation. However, with the arrival of COVID-19, the economy began to slow down starting March, and although rural production did not stop, the sector felt the impact of low demand," stated Colombia's Minister of Agriculture, Rodolfo Enrique Zea, in an interview with Portafolio. "The first reaction people had was to go out to the supermarkets, stores, and markets to stock up on food, and that generated a rise in prices. Afterwards, purchasing normalized and, even though prices increased at once, they declined gradually."
"Production in the semester was very good, and that led the sector to grow by 6.8% between January and March, mainly driven by transitory crops, which grew by 8.6%. This allowed us to have sufficient supply to meet demand, and we have had no difficulties. Furthermore, when the declaration of pandemic started the fruit harvest was already coming out. Now, we want to maintain the supply in the second semester.”
Regarding Finagro's Special Credit Lines with Subsidized Rate, Zea commented: “Colombia Agro Produce Line has allowed us to place 450,000 million pesos, 102,000 million of which have gone to small producers. In total, there have been 14,506 beneficiaries. 222,000 million pesos have been disbursed to 1,851 medium-sized producers. 126,000 million pesos have been loaned to 64 large producers. This means that 72% of the funds were allocated for small and medium producers. Right now, we are only disbursing money for small producers to reach the established goal of 40% of the total.”
According to the minister, the main lesson left by the emergency is that farmers need to lose their fear of selling their crops through electronic platforms. “We are going to continue promoting electronic sales of farm products through the 'El campo a un clic' program, which is already working with 15 electronic platforms and an articulated work with Fenalco. The idea is that stores and supply centers get involved and buy their products through this system. The agricultural sector must lose the fear of selling through electronic platforms," Zea concluded.