Despite the impact of the pandemic in Colombia, which has caused a considerable increase in unemployment in the country, the banana sector has managed to maintain throughout the quarantine 100% of the 35,000 jobs that the production of Musaceae generates.
“The banana sector quickly and efficiently adapted to the measures required to manage the COVID-19 because of the experience it had implementing rigorous biosafety protocols to combat the Fusarium Tropical Race 4 disease. This has allowed continuing and maintaining the production and marketing of bananas,” stated Emerson Aguirre, the president of the Association of Banana Growers of Colombia (Augura).
In 2019, Colombia's banana sector's production yield stood at 1,961 boxes per hectare, i.e. 41 boxes per hectare lower than in 2018. In 2018, the number of hectares of banana planted in the national territory was 50,685 hectares. In 2019, this number increased by 542 hectares and amounted to 51,227 hectares.
The production of this fruit is strongly export-oriented. According to Aguirre, this happens because banana consumption in Colombia stands at 4 kilos per capita per year, while in Europe it stands at 14 kilos.
"In 2019, Augura recorded export sales of $ 852.8 million, corresponding to more than 100 million boxes of Colombian bananas, maintaining stability with respect to 2018. Uraba exported 65.4 million boxes of bananas worth 538.9 million dollars, while Magdalena and La Guajira exported 34.7 million boxes worth $313.9 million. In 2020, exports continue relatively normally despite the pandemic," he stressed.
Last year, however, wasn't easy for the banana guild. "In addition to the decrease in productivity as a consequence of climate change, the Fusarium Tropical Race 4 fungus appeared on the national scene, so we had to focus all our efforts to contain it and prevent its spread," Aguirre said.
“Currently, the fungus is controlled in La Guajira and in all our associated farms, which are located in Magdalena and Uraba: they are clean and have implemented an adequate biosecurity protocol. We have been training for 5 years to prevent this disease and this has been very useful for managing biosecurity actions since the arrival of COVID-19 in the country," he concluded.