Colombia has enormous potential to develop its citrus export industry, supplying markets in North and Central America and the Caribbean that together have close to 100m consumers, according to one of the country’s leading economists.
Luis Alfonso Moreno Ayala told FreshPlaza that Colombia’s diverse microclimates, fertile soil, climate and ability to adapt to promising new varieties meant it could supply markets such as the Caribbean and Asia with citrus during periods when other countries are not producing,.
“While our geographical position gives us a competitive edge in the market, we need to control pests and diseases that currently limit our export opportunities,” Moreno said.
Figures from the agriculture ministry show that Colombia produced 1.15m tonnes of citrus in 2013 from a total planted area of 83,058ha, an increase of 67 per cent and 77 per cent respectively on the 1998 figures of 691,219 tonnes and 41,555ha. Persian limes account for approximately half of the country’s export total.
“Colombia’s citrus industry has evolved rapidly, not just in terms of planted area but also productivity, especially in Persian limes,” Moreno said.
He singled out the indigenous Pajarito lime (citrus aurantifolio Swingle), a highly acidic fruit slightly smaller in size than a Persian lime which grows in the wild in Colombia, as having particularly good potential for exports as it can be harvested almost organically.