Colombia is the world's fifth-largest exporter of bananas, a fruit that ranks as the third most important product in the Colombian agro-export basket and accounts for 5.3% of the country's agricultural GDP.
Colombia exported 109 million boxes of bananas for 916 million dollars in 2020, i.e. 5.3% more than the 879 million dollars it achieved in 2019. Moreover, between January and July 2021, the country's banana exports have amounted to 603.9 million dollars, i.e. 7.7% more than in the same period of 2020.
Despite this, the first half of the year has been very difficult for the sector, stated Emerson Aguirre, president of Augura. "Production costs have increased on many items," he said. This scenario is due to multiple factors, such as the increase in the costs of maritime freight, which have been triggered by the outbreaks and have forced shipping companies and ports to close their operations. These phenomena have caused friction in international logistics. "In addition, there is a shortage of refrigerated containers worldwide, which has also led to an increase of up to 300% in logistics costs."
Plastic and paper packaging for the boxes have also registered increases in recent months, as well as fertilizers, as their prices have increased by about 40%, Aguirre stated.
As a result, the sector has already been an approach with government entities to avoid greater increases that could affect crops.
According to Aguirre, the Fusarium fungus plague has forced plantations to establish very strict biosecurity measures to prevent its spread. Jorge Hernan Palacino, the technical director of Plant Health of the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA), said that they work to contain the pest and that, for the moment, it is only found in La Guajira.
"Even though this pest has been present in the country since 2019, we have increased our exports. It is a serious situation, but I don't think it will affect production," Palacino said. In fact, the sector plans to increase banana exports by 5% in 2021, Aguirre stated.