Avocados taste great and have plenty of nutritional benefits, making them one of the latest diet trends in the world.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation Corporate Statistical Database, of the 6.4 million tonnes of Hass avocados produced in 2018 the leading producers were Mexico (34%), Dominican Republic (10%), Peru (8%), Indonesia (6%) and Colombia (5%).
Colombia is one of the fastest growing producers in the region and has attracted foreign investment from neighbouring countries such as Peru, Mexico and Chile, that have purchased land for production. An avocado producer in Colombia tells us, “The avocado business is very lucrative, as long as it is the Hass variety.”
“The avocado business is very lucrative, as long as it is the Hass variety.”
Avocado producer, Colombia
Colombia can produce two crops per year and has 2.4 million hectares with high and medium aptitude for the cultivation and only 82,946 hectares have been cultivated. According to an entrepreneur in the avocado business in Colombia, “Producers have been climbing a steep learning curve about optimal growing conditions, dealing with pests, export processes and the importance of roads to get the product out. There are now several cooperatives, bringing smaller producers together to help them export.”
Even the illegal groups have not posed a problem, yet, the avocado entrepreneur explains, “Drug trafficking is not currently a problem for avocado producers, unlike in other countries [meaning Mexico]. Illegal groups are mainly found in the south and specifically not in the areas where avocados are being planted.”
The most serious risk facing the industry on the medium and long-term is environmental. Avocados are grown as a monoculture, meaning the same crop grows in the same land for years, depleting minerals and nutrients from the soil, leaving it prone to disease. Additionally, avocado production requires large volumes of water, exacerbating local water stress.
“There are risks related to water depletion and the impact on communities.”
Commodities lawyer, Colombia
A commodities lawyer in Colombia affirms, “There are risks related to water depletion and the impact on communities. When production begins to be on a large scale, the environmental lobby will pressure the politicians into regulating production.” For the time being, PROCOLOMBIA, the government agency responsible promoting Colombian non-traditional exports, international tourism and foreign investment, is providing support to grow the industry.
Avocado production in Colombia is set to continue its growth. Interest is coming from regional players and even some local coffee growers are starting to shift to avocados.