Colombia: Potato consumption 60% growth potential

The goal of the potato producers over the next four years is to increase consumption, which is currently at 61 kilos per year per person, by 60 percent to 100 kilos.

Jose Manuel Garcia, director of the Colombian Federation of Potato Producers (Fedepapa), asked the government to assume a permanent commitment to the industry and not only to make a campaign to encourage Colombians to eat more potatoes.

The leader said that potato consumption in Peru had increased from 38 kilos to 85 kilos thanks to the government’s support and that other sectors in Colombia, such as producers of pork, chicken, egg and milk, had obtained this support and had invested millions of pesos.

Garcia believes that, apart from the contribution made by the actors involved in the potato chain, such as the processing industry and producers, the government needs to invest about $10,000 million pesos a year to advance a permanent program and stimulate demand for potatoes.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fedepapa currently invest 4,050 million pesos in the ongoing campaign to encourage the consumption of potatoes.

According to a study, one aspect in favour of this initiative is that 97 percent of Colombian households consume potatoes, even when the price of this food increases.

2014 was a tough year for potato producers
Potato production in Colombia is estimated at 2.7 and 3 million tons per year, and its value ranges between 500,000 and 600,000 pesos per ton, i.e. the total value of the harvest ranges between 1.5 and 1.8 billion pesos.

According to Fedepapa, 2014 has been a tough year, as they were negatively impacted by weather conditions and the producer’s lack of capitalization, as prices were low in the previous two years.

Additionally, the Government hasn’t complied with the commitments it announced after the protests last year, including the allocation of 70,000 million pesos for a campaign to increase consumption, creating collection centres, and schools out in the fields, among other things.

Even though the potato sector supplies the domestic demand, Colombia still imports 20,000 tons of potato for the frozen potato industry.

Colombia exported 40,000 tons to Venezuela until recently, but the market conditions in that country slowed business and the sector is now looking for options in the Caribbean, where there is potential for exporting 30,000 tons per year.

Another problem affecting potato producers is the whitefly, which turns the plants yellow, and for which the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) declared an emergency.

The alert for this disease was given for the 130,000 hectares of crops that are in Cundinamarca, Boyacá, Nariño and Antioquia, which produce nearly 90 percent of the potato in the country, and the fields that exist in Cauca, Santander, Tolima and Caldas.


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