In this article you can learn more about the Colombian strategic agenda for the floriculture sector 2020 – 2030, called "For the sustainability of the floriculture sector", which recently has been presented in the presence of Colombian President Duque. The agenda was jointly created by the Colombian National Government and the Colombian Association of Flower Exporters – Asocolflores.
Interesting elements for Dutch agribusiness are the statements and demands towards biological control and imports hereof, speeding up and also simplifying ICA processes (the Colombian NPPO), a.o. for pest risk analyses, the ambitions of Colombia to become a regional hub for plant material and improved agrologistics.
The main purpose of the agenda is to consolidate the leadership of Colombian floriculture in international markets through sustainable production and technological adaptation, thus contributing to the profitability of the sector, country’s development and floriculture workers communities. The agenda consists of 6 points of which the most important for Dutch agribusiness and for our bilateral agenda are listed below.
1. Competitive legal framework: Floriculture in a framework of legality and competitiveness
The agenda states that for the competitiveness of the flower sector simplification of the regulations on labor, phytosanitary, environmental, tax, logistics and foreign trade processes is essential.
The following 2 actions are stipulated:
1.1 Generate a regulation that takes into account the particularities of the floriculture sector, amongst others with regards to:
a) Land use: a zoning map of the floriculture sector is needed which can act as an instrument for regions and municipalities to - under technical conditions - prioritize land use.
b) Biological control: in order to maintain access to certain markets biological control is necessary. For this reason, it is necessary to strengthen the local production of these inputs and other bio-rational products, as well as allowing companies that produce biological controllers abroad market access to commercialize their products in Colombia. For this, it is necessary that the relevant regulations of the Colombian Agricultural Institute - ICA and the National Environmental Licensing Authority - ANLA are articulated and the processes of the environmental impact studies and the risk analyzes associated with the entry of these organisms into the country are streamlined.
c) Foreign trade: for the importation of capital goods that contribute to increasing the efficiency and productivity of the sector a special import-export system should be designed.
1.2 Adapt the regulatory framework of the floricultural sector to promote floriculture as an innovation cluster for plant material
The objective is to have a stable, clear and viable legislative framework for the import of new ornamental species and for the actualization of varieties of species which already are permitted to enter the country. Both for commercial activities and especially for research and development of new varieties. This in order for Colombia to become a regional hub for plant material, where - without losing the scientific rigor and without disqualifying the phytosanitary risk associated with this process - producers can count on the offer of improved plant material.
Due to the climatic conditions of the country, Colombia has the ambition to become a supplier of plant material for the region by carrying out hybridization processes in the country. At this point, ICA should act as a facilitator of these processes so that Colombia does not lose its competitiveness in terms of innovative plant material.Risk Analysis processes and the establishment of import requirements must be carried out in a short time. The authorization of the use of private plant quarantines and the establishment of others in association with the government and the asocolflores can help to realize this more quickly in such a way that these processes go at the same speed as the development of varieties goes.
Establishing import requirements that encompass multiple countries and that are not specific for a species / country would be helpful as breeding companies repeatedly do not just have one single production site.
2. Efficient markets for foreign exchange coverage: Policies to mitigate exchange rate risks in floriculture
Within a scenario of great economic uncertainty in international markets that generates exchange rate volatility, it is necessary to be able to count on and strengthen financial instruments that mitigate currency risks. These are considered to be fundamental aspects for the competitiveness of the Colombian floriculture sector.
3. Logistic and technological development: Efficient logistics to conquer markets
With the aim of being more efficient and competitive, optimizing times, strengthening legality and traceability in the value chain, obtaining reliable statistics that account for the floriculture activity, perform data analysis, as well as developing sustainable and articulated activities that involve the elimination of the use of paper, among others, make it necessary to have an adequate physical and technological infrastructure available for the development of logistical operations in order to reduce the costs associated with it.
3.1 Strengthen the physical infrastructure for the development of the floriculture sector
Within the framework of the national government program called “Rural Colombia”, which seeks to maintain and improve the country's tertiary road network", inclusion of the roads near the flower production centers, which are mainly located in the regions of Cundinamarca and Antioquia, is required. This in order to increase logistical efficiency, reduce operating costs and uncertainty for cargo transport, as well as to guarantee worker access to the crops in a safe way.
3.2 Strengthen information systems and technological tools within the value chain of the floriculture sector
It is necessary to be able to count on robust and interchangeable information systems from government entities in order to have a floriculture sector that can follow up on information and improve decision-making through tools such as the generation of statistics, reports, indicators and other reports associated with the floriculture activity.
4. Consolidation and market development: Strengthening commercial performance in traditional and emerging markets
With the aim of increasing flower exports, it is necessary to continue with the phytosanitary diplomacy that the government carries out and its support to position the Flowers of Colombia brand, through the development of activities that allow the consolidation and opening of new viable markets. It is necessary to implement and work with information technologies and social networks to enter new distribution channels and customer niches.
4.1 Support of market research
Support is required for the development of market research studies for Colombian flowers that allow, among others, to have information on the evolution of the current and expected supply and demand of flowers worldwide and timely detection of threats and opportunities.
4.2 Develop promotional and marketing activities
The markets of the United States and Europe are currently the main destinations for Colombian flowers and have ample growth potential. At the same time, it seeks to enter new important markets such as China and Germany, in particular, which have always been a market- and logistical challenge for Colombian flowers. The support of the national government is required to continue positioning the “Flowers of Colombia” brand through participation and promotion in traditional trade fairs or in new markets and promotion of the – Colombian - Florverde Sustainable Flowers certification.
For all of the above, management of entities such as the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, ProColombia, the Ministry of Agriculture, especially through the ICA, and the Ministry of Foreign Relations, is essential to achieve these objectives.
5. Sustainable production: Mobilizing innovation to consolidate a sustainable floriculture
The culture of innovation is essential for the sustainability and competitiveness of the flower growing sector. For this the articulation between academia, public and private sector is essential.
5.1 Promote research projects for the floriculture sector
For the development and competitiveness of the floriculture sector, it is necessary to promote research projects and their spread and adaptation, which contribute to a.o. the phytosanitary health status of the sector, the development and introduction of new varieties, collection of genetic material, management of biological control, efficient use of natural resources, improvement in the use of inputs, efficient water use, circular economy, impact of climate change, identification and acquisition of new technologies, analysis and commercialization of native species, improvements in logistical processes, the cold chain, decrease in labor accidents and disease .
For this, it is important to define institutional support through the Agrologistics and Agrotechnology policy documents from the National Political, Economical and Social Advisory Board, which are in the process of being designed. Therefore, it is important to work on topics such as:
a) With the Colombian Corporation for Agricultural Research - Agrosavia
Line of research on flowers: In research topics it is important that there is a specific line of research from Agrosavia focused on flowers. In this sense, the proposal consists of developing projects that involve the flower sector and in this way evaluate the relevance of a specific line.
Agrosavia - Ceniflores: articulate research in plant material issues to encourage the development of native species for production and export.
For this point, it is important to take advantage of the work that Agrosavia already has been doing in the field of development of bio-inputs, genetic improvement and controlled environments.
b) Agricultural technology: support is needed to encourage the use of agricultural technology focused on increasing productivity and quality of the export product. This encompasses issues of substrates, precision irrigation systems, climate management and control, and information systems to optimize operational work.
c) Information and Communications Technologies - ICT: it is necessary to use and encourage the use of ICT and technological tools within the value chain such as blockchain, data mining and social networks that support the security processes of the value chain, as well as the consolidation and opening of new markets.
Furthermore the following specific research topics that can be addressed through science and technology projects are of interest to the sector have been identified, amongst others:
- The development of algorithm-based production estimates prediction models and the use of technologies such as drones with which experience in other countries already exists.
- Strengthening of bio-inputs (biocontrollers), biofertilizers, with the objective to diminished use of chemical inputs and improvement of conditions in the Soil-Water-Plant system.
- Development of models of Agrologistic Policy documents.
5.2 human capital development in careers focused on issues associated with the flower sector
It is necessary for the academy to train professional agronomists focused on specialized topics in this sector. Likewise, it is important to have other careers focused and specialized on topics of interest to this sector for its development and sustainability.
Asocolflores and Ceniflores together with the Ministries of Agriculture and Education, as well as SENA, can develop the corresponding training plans for the sector.
6. Bottlenecks to be solved in the short term
The sixth agenda point of the 10 year plan is about resolving bottlenecks of the floricultural sector in the short term, especially related to required changes in legislation to facilitate the business climate for the flower producers and -exporters. Vis a vis ICA it asks for speeding up and facilitation of the import/export of plant material, including PRA’s and CTC’s to enhance local research and development of plant material. Vis a vis the ministry of environment it ask for the abolishment of the no-cites declaration for flowers and modification of the present norms for the re-use of water in the framework of a more circular economy.