EU avocado buyers mission gets underway in Colombia
The group will visit avocado nurseries, farms and packinghouses in some of the country's key up-and-coming production regions, such as the Cauca Valley, the Eje Cafetero, and Tolima.
The event, in which Fresh Fruit Portal is participating, is organized by the Netherlands-based Center for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), trade promotion agency ProColombia, Colombia's National Trade Association (Analdex), industry association CorpoHass and CSR Netherlands.
The entities are aiming to show the huge potential of the Colombian avocado industry and the advantages and opportunities it can offer to buyers and importers.
Arno van der Maden, fresh produce expert at CBI, explained that the buyer mission's main goal is to strengthen the image of Colombian products while also improving the perception of Colombia as a trustworthy and reliable Hass avocado supplier.
Giovanni Gómez, economic affairs director at Analdex, added that the organizing groups hope avocado producers will be able to increase their sales in the short- and medium-term.
Van der Maden explained the trip has been organized as part of a sectorial project that has two main objectives - firstly, to get to know Colombia as a country, and secondly, to show the level of professionalism in the avocado sector and the way that they do business. One testament to this is that Colombia has been chosen to host the World Avocado Congress next year.
Gomez commented that Colombian avocado industry players have worked hard over recent years to promote the fruit in international markets in a bid to boost exports.
"There are commercial windows where there is scarcity in Europe and where Colombia can play an important role compared to other regions which cannot supply during that time," Gómez said.
The tour will kicked off in the city of Cali on Monday and will this week move into various places in the west of the country including the Cauca Valley, Quindío, Risaralda, Caldas and Tolima, where the buyers will be able to learn about different parts of the process of fruit production - such as nurseries, orchards and packinghouses. They will also take part in a workshop on sustainability in the avocado supply chain.
The tour will last for six days and will allow the participants to conduct business with some of the leading Hass exporters, while also observing the good agricultural practices that are being developed in the country.
"We will visit regions where there is still a lot of work to do and where the producers are working with associations - I think that is where we have to put our attention," Van der Maden said.
The representative also highlighted that the visit to a nursery will be an important element of the tour. With demand for avocados having exploded over recent years, nurseries and the acquisition of seeds have become a big topic.
"One of the biggest challenges is that not everyone is well coordinated, and perhaps within five or six years we are going to have problems with those orchards, which is why we need to put lots of attention on the plants and varieties," he said.
Álvaro Forero, special projects director at Analdex, said producers are increasingly interested in finding ways to increase their profitability and implement the best phytosanitary management practices for their crops.
"The interaction that we have with the different markets is making the Colombian production increasingly more consistent with the international demand, and it is making us supply a good product at a reasonable price," he said.
ProColombia president Flavia Santoro highlighted that the country is able to supply avocados to international markets year-round.
"Avocados can be harvested early in warmer climates and late in colder climates. In the last five years the cultivated area for Hass avocados has grown by 126%," she said.
She added that the buyers mission is ideal for those looking to learn about the potential of Colombian agriculture first-hand.