According to Emerson Aguirre Medina, the president of the Association of Banana Growers of Colombia (Augura), despite the challenges that the Colombian banana sector has faced this year, exports in 2020 are expected to range between 800 and 900 million dollars at the end of the year, a similar figure than in 2019.
"2020 has been the most atypical year for the banana sector. The arrival of the Fusarium R-4 fungus to a reduced area of La Guajira in 2019 increased production costs. Then, in March, the coronavirus pandemic forced us to make investments in biosecurity,” he stated. "In conclusion, costs have been increasing, including logistic costs to export the fruit."
95% of Colombia's banana production is destined for export and only 5% goes to the national market, Aguirre added. That's why the sector is waiting for the improvement of the logistics that the new port of Antioquia will offer to the sector. "In addition, we seek to diversify the production in this area of other raw materials that will be mobilized by this port, including a good volume of imports."
Forecasts for 2021
The banana sector aspires to achieve exports of 1 billion dollars for the first time in 2021. "We will achieve this through best practices in production, climate management, improved information for producers, and the consolidation of our sales to markets such as China, South Korea, Japan, and Turkey."
"In addition, we are making progress in negotiations with the German supermarket chain Aldi, which has already announced it will decrease its purchase prices in 2023," Emerson Aguirre stated. “There is a wave of international sustainability labels, which have their cost, and we agree with them, but that strategy must also include fair payment for the products. They have said there will be sustainability premiums, but none of the supermarkets are willing to pay them."
The sector aspires to construct an irrigation and drainage district in the region of Uraba, the country's most important banana area, where there are 35,000 hectares devoted to banana crops. “This is strictly necessary to increase productivity. It is a super ambitious project that would enable an additional 30,000 hectares for the production of bananas and other crops. This is the way we could expand the agricultural frontier.”