NOVA MEDIA PUBLISHING INC.

Colombia: Banana Exports from Santa Marta Increase

7.9.2018

José Francisco Zúñiga President of the Banana Association of Magdalena and La Guajira (Asbama) of Colombia based in Santa Marta says that there are four major challenges facing the association. "Firstly, there is the issue of water care, which is fundamental for our sector, secondly deepening and improving the safety of our producers and cargo, thirdly the tertiary roads, vital for the transport of bananas, and finally the agricultural insurance issue," Zúñiga explained.

The union leader insisted that the security issue keeps dragging them away from the competition. "The banana sector has been a victim of drug trafficking for years, which has led producers and marketers to make important investments in technological and logistical security systems, and work hand in hand with the authorities. Currently, our members can rely on high safety standards throughout the chain for the export of bananas.

They use GPS verification of the vehicles that transport the fruit and security cameras to monitor the cargo. "Zúñiga added that "bananas are scanned before leaving the commercialization companies and again once it arrives at the port where it is reviewed and checked by the anti-narcotics police, thus fulfilling demanding protocols, which have allowed the seizure of contaminated loads. The banana sector annually invests between US$ 250 and US$ 300 per hectare planted in security, and currently between the department of La Guajira and El Magdalena there are 14,500 hectares sown with bananas. This extra expense has an impact on Colombian bananas in terms of competitiveness in the international market compared to other producing countries.

"Another important point this year for Asbama is that exports are forecast to close the year with an increase of 30,000 containers given the good result achieved in the first semester, according to the union.

The main destinations foe Colombian bananas are the European Union and the United States, a report from the association reveals that 85.3% of Colombian banana exports are destined for Europe and 14.5% for North America.

The port of Antwerp stands out in order of importance with 30.69% (28.7 million boxes) and the United States with 14.52% (13.6 million boxes), followed by Italy and the United Kingdom with a participation of 14.44% (13.5 million boxes) and 12.93% (12.1 million boxes), respectively. Banana exports through the port of Santa Marta, in 2017 totalled 28,458 containers of bananas and 74,766 tons of fruit in breakbulk, that represents 3,966 additional containers (an increase of 16.2 %) and 3,540 tons more (increase of 5%) than in 2016, as reported by the Port Society of Santa Marta (SPSM) and SMITCO.

According to the Dane information, the departments of Magdalena and La Guajira increased their export volume by 15.6% in 2017, while the other departments showed a reduction compared to the previous year. This meant that the participation of the region in the total export increased; going from 28.4% in 2016 to 32.1% in 2017, with a production of 30.1 million boxes of 20 kg (4 million boxes more than in 2016). Meanwhile, despite the 2.8% reduction in exports, Urabá maintains the leadership over national banana exports with 63.6 million boxes and a 67.9% share. Regarding the distribution of the volume exported by company, Uniban ranks first nationally with a 36.1% share of the total exported.

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