Colombia has carried out its first shipment of Hass avocados to China. A 23-tonne consignment of fruit grown and packed by Cartama departed from the port of Buenaventura on Thursday and is due to arrive in Shanghai on 29 June.

The shipment marks the culmination of years of negotiation by the Colombian and Chinese governments ending in the signing of the phytosanitary protocol last year.

Located in the department of Risaralda, Cartama has been producing avocados for more than 15 years and today accounts for around 20 per cent of Colombia’s export volume.

Colombia’s president, Iván Duque, said the shipment would provide economic oxygen for the country’s agricultural sector amid the Covid-19 crisis.

“Great news: today a shipment of 23 tonnes of Hass avocado leaves Buenaventura to Shanghai (China). This shows the drive of our agriculture, which is conquering markets thanks to the joint work of @MinAgricultura @MincomercioCo @PROCOLOMBIACO @china_embajada @corpohass,” the president tweeted.

The Regional Port Authority of Buenaventura said the port’s strategic location makes it the ideal gateway for avocado exporters targeting the Asian market.

“Our location, the certifications that support the quality of our operation and the technology that accompanies it have allowed us to be part of these historical moments for the country,” said general manager Juan Pablo Cepeda.

“Last year we paved the way [for shipments] to the US and Japan; today we have achieved the same in China and we still have hundreds of countries to explore and open new foreign trade relations with.”

Colombia has around 11,000ha of avocado production and there are currently 1,710 producers. So far this year it has exported 26,000 tonnes of the fruit, an increase of 36 per cent on the same point last year.