The banana is one of Colombia's flagship products in the international market and it continues to consolidate itself as one of the export products that generates the most income. In 2016, the country exported 93.4 million boxes of bananas and generated profits of nearly $811 million dollars.
The Banana Association of Colombia (Augura), which brings together entrepreneurs and banana marketers from the region of Uraba, located in the departments of Magdalena and Antioquia, shipped 73% of its production to European countries, such as Belgium, Italy, England, Germany, and the Netherlands, among others.
In 2017, they expect to increase that to 96 million boxes and earn approximately $850 million dollars, thanks to an increase in exports.
However, the Association states, the sector's growth can't only be measured by an increase in revenues or exports. Juan Camilo Restrepo, President of Augura, stated that this was the year of the sustainable development of bananas, referring to a strategy they seek to develop in 2017 on two fronts: protecting the environment and improving the working conditions of the workers in the region of Uraba. According to Restrepo, "this year, we are going to negotiate a collective agreement with Sintrainagro, Colombia's largest Union in the agricultural sector."
Even though these are the two priorities for the sector in 2017, they will continue working on other infrastructure projects aimed at improving the conditions to export the fruit and facilitating its marketing.
In Uraba, three marketing companies serve as a port to export through the Atlantic the 1,976 boxes of bananas per hectare that a banana plantation produces. These companies are the Uniban, Banacol, and Tecbaco companies, which account for 38,85%, 14.41%, and 11% of the fruit exports, respectively.
What are the infrastructure projects that will favor the sector?
The construction of mega-projects such as the 4G highways, the Mar 1 highway, which goes from the Fernando Gomez Martinez tunnel to Santa Fe de Antioquia; the tunnel of el Toyo, that joins this municipality with Cañas Gordas; and the complementary way in the second wave, Mar 2, which goes from Cañas Gordas to Chigorodo. Its a road infrastructure that will link the Caribbean Sea with Medellin.
The second intervention, which is expected to be completed this year, is the Transversal de Las Americas, which will connect Antioquia with the Department of Cordoba. According to Gabriel Elejalde, the regional director of Augura in Uraba, said that "all the good things that happen to the region directly benefit the banana sector."
The third and most awaited project is the port of Antioquia, which would allow this area to export more than 6 million tons. This project is in its financial closure process and its construction has already been awarded. Thus, Restrepo said, its very important to end the sector's stigma so that people invest in the port of Uraba.