Colombian banana industry to "overcome challenges" in 2021

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Colombian banana industry to

The Colombian banana sector has seen a challenging season in 2020 and has plans to lessen the strain in 2021.

As the 2020 season comes to a close through the arrival of the fungal strain that causes banana wilt fungus, Fusarium oxysporum cubense also known as Tropical Race 4 (TR4) and the Covid-19 pandemic, Colombian banana export numbers are still similar to those of 2019, between $800 and $900 million.

Emerson Aguirre Medina, president of the Colombian Banana Association (Augura), spoke with Portafolio about the plans of the sector through 2021.

“Our goal is to export US$ 1 billion by using best practices in production, climate management, improved information for producers and the consolidation of our sales to markets such as China, South Korea, Japan and Turkey,” Medina said.

About 95 percent of the Colombian banana production is for export, while only 5 percent stays in the domestic market.

“What is important to Colombian banana producers to increase production is to be insistent on the construction of an irrigation and drainage system for the Urabá area,” Medina said.

Colombian banana producers are looking into an irrigation project that would enable an additional 30,000 hectares for the production of bananas and other crops.

Urabá is already the largest banana zone in Colombia with 35,000 hectares of available growing land.

Medina also told Portafolio that the second challenge to overcome is obtaining the support of the Military Forces to prevent the contamination of products by illegal groups dedicated to the production of narcotics.

“Third, despite the scarcity of State resources, we need the ICA to have a budget to support the control of TR4,” he said.

Another potential project that the sector will take on is the construction of a port in Antioquia. 

“We are guaranteed an initial load of two million tons of bananas. Apart from this, we seek to diversify the production of other raw materials in the area that will be moved by this port, including a good volume of imports.”

The sector has thought to engage both the public and private divisions to carry out the project, potentially with international cooperation as well.

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