Colombia launches new project to boost papaya exports
The project stems from an alliance between the Administrative Unit for Territorial Consolidation (UACT) and the Project Development Fund (FONADE).
Colombian Horticultural Association (Asohofrucol) engineer and representative Giovanni Velásquez spoke to www.freshfruitportal.com about the initiative's objectives and benefits.
The project is part of an interagency framework agreement signed between UACT and FONADE, and will have input from Asohofrucol which will act as an advisory body.
The idea is to integrate the various industry actors in the region and become a tool to contextualize the production processes and the export potential to both domestic and foreign markets.
"This has been one big collective effort between all of us to improve the quality of life of the growers, and one way to do that is to look in new directions in terms of marketing the products," Velasquez said.
"We came up with the idea of carrying out a study to see if it would be viable to have a papaya production plant, and hopefully plants for other regional crops, and that's the reason why we're doing this project."
According to Asohofrucol, the project involves studies relating to marketing, finance, the environment, jurisdiction and technical aspects for the design, and the plant's optimum capacity.
"Obviously, with papaya being a product with potential in international markets, [the producers] are searching for the best way to reach these markets," Velasquez said.
The papaya market is growing worldwide, and growers in the Cordoba region are reportedly setting their sights on destinations such as the EU and Canada.
Velasquez said a few containers had been sent to Canada in early 2013, but the industry realized it needed to improve its post-harvest practices to boost trade to other countries.
"Of course we were thinking about the U.S., since the processes and conditions to export to that market are already in motion, and as well as want to be able to export to Europe, but for that we will need to work with our producers regarding certain certifications like Global G.A.P.," Velásquez said.
He added that a post-harvest plant would meet the producers' needs who want to export their fruit and help them achieve better prices.
"The idea is to work with producers so that they can prepare themselves properly, and we hope that in 2016 we will have growers who fully comply with the conditions so they can export to these key markets," he said.
Colombia is estimated to have around 5,900 hectares of papaya production land, producing some 142,000 metric tons (MT) annually.