By: Jorge Enrique Restrepo, CEO of Corpohass
The development of the agricultural sector in Colombia has increased in recent years, with the Hass avocado in the spotlight of this new reality. With enthusiasm, I can see how rapidly the sown hectares grow, the massive production in tons, foreign investment, land buying, exports, construction of packing plants and the interest of many to enter the business. At several conferences, meetings and international fairs that I have attended in the last 18 months, I have repeatedly listened to the same question: What is going on in Colombia?
I personally believe that the answer is a combination of many factors. The sector is in full development, with business vision, an agro-export mentality, the recovery of unproductive lands, the signing of the peace agreement, the behavior of the exchange rate, and the diversification of other businesses. These, among other reasons, have contributed to Colombia’s continued scaling in the ranking of the major avocado-producing countries.
If we look at the country’s agricultural history, Colombia plays a very important role at the global level because of the magnitude represented by four sectors of agriculture: coffee, flowers, bananas and palm oil. The present and of the Hass avocado is changing, where the sector, which is of lesser exports in terms of currencies, is showing the greatest growth in the last 5 years. From $10 million in exports in 2015 to $63 million in 2018, there is a clear and positive evolution. However, growing just for the sake of growing is not the goal, nor should it be the ambition of the producers or exporters. There is much more beyond this; we must also think of a profitable growth in a generation defined by better employment conditions. The sustainability of the business has to be seen from the social, environmental and economic standpoints, and the consistency of the quality in the fruit must be certified according to the standards of each market.
Additionally, Colombia is the host country of the IX World Avocado Congress, which will be held in Medellin this coming September. The WAC is a special event that brings together the whole value chain of the industry at a global level. In addition, it will create a strong dynamic in the sector. In other words, we will have a “before” and “after”, because as organizers we will make a real difference. The opportunity to host the world’s most important event in a country where the Hass avocado industry is still at an emerging stage is a great challenge and responsibility. After the event, many will have a clear conclusion as to where Colombia is headed in this business.
Our priorities at Corpohast, the corporation of producers and exporters of the Hass avocado in Colombia, are defined by what aspects we see that must be strengthened to face the challenges we have in the short and long term. At a nationwide level, our focus to boost the development of the sector must be in the opening of markets, the international promotion of the fruit’s origin, sustainability, to incentivize certification, and the promotion of research and increased domestic consumption, which is still low in relation to other countries in the region. We have the most versatile fruit of all in our hands, and that is something that we have to understand and appreciate, while always thinking about the end consumer.
Learn more about the development of the avocado industry at the 9th World Avocado Congress, to be held in Medellin from September 23rd to 27th.