CAPITALIZING WHERE IT COUNTS

Colombia 2019 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

Colombia's location and environment give it huge competitive advantages in the agribusiness sector.

Andrés Valencia Pinzón
BIOGRAPHY
Andrés Valencia Pinzón became Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2018. He holds a degree in economics from Universidad de los Andes. Formerly president of the National Federation of Poultry Farmers (Fenavi), he has always been involved in the agribusiness and international trade sectors in Colombia, serving as commercial manager at the National Coffee Federation, as a representative in Asia (2008-2010), responsible for the company’s global sales and commercial strategy. He was general manager of the Colombian Institute of Agriculture from 2006-2008.

Agriculture is a pillar of the economy. How can the government's development policy aid it?
The purpose of the policy is to order two of the most important processes: production and marketing. The first is through a strategy of production management, and the second is via the “Coseche y Venda a la Fija" (contract farming) strategy. The former seeks to promote agricultural transformation, strengthening planning processes to make efficient use of resources, smoothing oversupply and scarcity cycles, reducing price volatility, encouraging innovation and technological development, improving quality according to market demand, and integrating agribusiness production with small- and medium-sized producers, all while enhancing the competitiveness of national production. Furthermore, the strategy will concentrate public and private investment in the most productive regions identified by the UPRA, prioritizing the following 10 areas: potatoes, onion, rice, corn, avocado, panela, forestry, cotton, milk, fishing industry, and aquaculture. The production management strategy relies on five components. The first is the agricultural frontier, which entails the identification of the best performance municipalities through a zoning model. The second component is productive planning with a focus on reducing price volatility. Another element is technical assistance through the regulation of Law 1876 of 2017 for the provision of the agricultural extension service. The fourth is access to finance through Finagro services such as Special Credit Lines (LEC), the Agricultural Guarantee Fund (FAG), and the Agricultural Insurance Incentive. The last component, improving infrastructure and marketing, includes, for example, access to land adaptation, processing and storage infrastructure, as well as the strategy of contract farming and tackling agricultural smuggling. Coseche y Venda a la Fija is a well-defined strategy designed by the national government using the contract farming model. This model can be defined as agricultural production carried out according to an agreement between a buyer and a farmer, which establishes conditions for the production and marketing of a farm product. Through this strategy, the national government seeks to generate greater equity in the distribution of generated profits throughout market chains, such that producers obtain better and more stable income. To encourage the coordination of small- and medium-sized producers with the industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has designed and implemented financial and technical incentives. Finagro, through intermediaries such as banks and financial cooperatives, will give the producers financial incentives.

What role does agriculture play in Colombia's export economy, and how will the government's strategy to improve it affect the agriculture sector?
Agriculture has historically been among the major engines of the Colombian economy, allowing it to position itself as a supplier of high-quality and differentiated products such as cocoa, coffee, flowers, and bananas. Our strategy of boosting the country's exports is based largely on the promotion of non-traditional products and overcoming trade barriers for agricultural goods. Being a tropical country with unique agro-ecological conditions and a variety of products with global appeal, Colombia has great competitive advantages in the agribusiness sector.
In partnership with Canada, the ministry has launched the “Agroemprende Cacao" program to support entrepreneurship in the cacao sector. What does this program seek to achieve?
The program aims to increase productivity of the farms under 5,500 cocoa producing families by 30%; increase women empowerment and participation in the sector; sow or improve over 3,300ha of cocoa; increase the volume of cocoa sold through 55 associations and cooperatives; and establish funds or commercial alliances to support cooperatives. The project will be implemented in Putumayo, Meta, Boyacá, Santander, and Antioquia, among others, and seeks to strengthen and support at least 3,300 ha under agroforestry systems, including cocoa, plantain, and timber. It also aims to improve access to new markets and consolidate sustainable business at the cooperative level with Canada, the 13th-largest importer of cocoa beans in the world, representing 1.9% (USD180 million) of global sales.