Colombia grows long onions on more than 17,000 hectares in a total of 14 departments and its production is led by the department of Boyaca. Boyaca produces more than 250,000 tons of long onions a year, accounting for 67.4% of the total national production. Onions, a company specializing in the production of this vegetable -the most consumed vegetable in the country, which is available all year long- is headquartered in Boyaca.
"The long onion has been one of the main crops in China and Japan, where this marvel of gastronomy originated. It has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years in these countries and it currently maintains great importance in Asian cuisine. It was introduced to Colombia by the Spaniards in the sixties and since then commercial crops have been developed to supply national consumption. Now, we are working to access international trade thanks to the unparalleled quality of our onion," stated Libardo Hernandez, president of Onions.
"The long onion grown in Colombia is of paramount importance in Colombian cuisine and used on a daily basis in the country. Simply put, it is the queen of Colombian cuisine and 55 million Colombians consume it three times a day. There are Colombians so accustomed to its flavor and delicacy that it is, perhaps, the only vegetable that every Colombian resident abroad misses considerably when cooking."
"We have been working with fresh Colombian long onions, and this year we began its industrialization process," stated Libardo Hernandez. “To do this, we acquired an onion washing plant in Belgium. We have certified crops in good agricultural practices (BPA) and we are certified as exporters, the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) has also certified our production and packing plant to export fresh vegetables. We work hand in hand with farmers in the region in order to promote industrial development throughout the Lake Tota area, in the municipalities of Tota, Cuitiva, and Aquitania. These producers, like us, are interested in growing onions with good practices to access more and better markets with this product, the pride of the Boyaca's farmers."
Corpoica Aquitania 1 stands out among the onion varieties grown in Colombia. It is an onion genotype developed for the Lake Tota region and the country's first long onion material registered with the ICA.
"In order to explore the genetic variability collected and conserved in the plant germplasm bank administered by Agrosavia, the evaluation of 62 long onion clones was carried out for the municipalities of Aquitania, Tota, and Cuitiva. This resulted in the Corpoica Aquitaine 1 variety, a variety of excellent characteristics. It has good agronomic behavior and stands out for its greater number of pseudo stems and higher concentration of pyruvic acid (pungency). Its production yield is also equal to or greater than the other cultivated varieties."
"The farmers of Aquitania, Tota, and Cuitiva and, in general, the country have always had the unrestricted support of ICA and Agrosavia. They are always ready to support them regarding crops' health, quality, and safety through certification processes of good agricultural practices. Agrosavia has been working for more than 20 years to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of onion cultivation in the country. Its work focuses on soil, water, fertilization, and integrated post-harvest management.”
"The training of farmers and their working methods is very important for Agrosavia and ICA, and the Onions family, especially because we need to protect Lake Tota, one of the most important freshwater reserves and reserve of endemic birds and transitory birds in Colombia, which provides water for the population of 9 municipalities and the industry."
Next step: the internationalization of Colombia's long onion
"We are currently working in the national market, mainly in the center of the country, and next year we expect to supply the national market through chain stores and further increase our industrial capacity to reach international markets. Currently, we are conducting negotiations with US companies in Florida to export our product there starting August 2022."
"Starting in January 2023, we'll be sending to different international markets our fresh, vacuum-packed long onion, and our star product, dehydrated, 100% natural, 100% Colombian long onion, which is processed in our facilities in Aquitania, Boyaca. We want to share the non-perishable product we process so that millions of households can enjoy its extraordinary quality, flavor, smell, and pungency as if it had just been chopped in their homes."
"We will have distributors in many parts of the world who will take care of the marketing of this product. We have already been contacted by people and companies from different countries through our social networks and our website. We will also be dehydrating Chinese chives, which are also grown in Colombia (and that the Onions company is promoting) as they have a very wide market in the vegetable and spice sectors."
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