The agricultural GDP represents 7% of the total national GDP. In 2017, the agricultural industry sector consolidated its position as one of the sectors that contributed the most to the economy due to the 5.2% increase compared to 2016. This growth was leveraged by the increase in the cultivation of products such as coffee, bananas and flower. Additionally, products such as avocado and pineapple gained a place in the country’s export portfolio. Colombia exports 98 agricultural products at present, of which 10 achieved eligibility in seven countries.

One of the initiatives developed by the government, and that continues to be in force for 2018, is the Plan Siembra (translation: Sowing Plan). This plan has sought to increase the productive agricultural landmass and diversify current crops and focuses on corn, soybeans, rice, palm oil, cocoa and some horticultural products for export, such as avocados and mangoes. One of the strategies for this sector is the transformation of the production chain through genetic improvements, the acquisition of state-of-the-art technologies, the automation of processes, public investment in research, and economies of scale.

The growth prospects for the short and medium term for the agricultural industry sector in Colombia are positive, due to the increase in national demand for food, the growing opportunities for exports, and the important investments that support the evolution of this sector. In 2018, agribusiness is expected to boost the Colombian economy, with a predicted increase of 3,6%.

The greater potential is seen for the following subsectors:

  • Coffee will continue to be one of Colombia’s most prominent products thanks to the initiatives that have positioned the country as a supplier of sustainable and high-quality coffee.
  • Palm oil will maintain the growth it has registered over the past decade, due to the increase in demand for imports in Latin America and the enhancement of the National Biodiesel Program. The next challenge will be to boost productivity to the levels observed in Southeast Asia.
  • The sugar sector will also continue growing, leveraged by the growing demand for imports from the United States and other Latin American countries. Colombia is projected to continue being one of the largest sugar producers on the continent.
  • The horticulture and fruit subsector will keep its positive outlook in the coming years as this produces the second largest amount of income after coffee.

According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), one of the greatest opportunities for Colombia is to meet the demand for food in the coming years. By the year 2050, food production in developing countries will need to double. Colombia has been projected as one of the most important food stocks in the world, due to the potential in agricultural land – calculated at 25.5 million hectares (without affecting forested areas and natural forests) – of which only 18.8% have been used. Additionally, the development of large-scale crops is favored by the availability of water resources and by the variety of climate conditions.

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  • Colombia comes 2nd in the region for the highest percentage of the agricultural sector making up part of the GDP (7%). 
  • The agricultural loans for the year 2017 increased by 58% compared to the year 2016, going from COP10.3 billion to COP16.3 billion.
  • In 2017, 441,000 productive projects were developed, mainly in the coffee, rice, livestock, cocoa, avocado and palm sectors.
  • A 28.9% growth in palm oil production is expected for 2020.
  • Colombia has 25.5 million available hectares, of which only 18.8% have been used.
  • Between 2015 and 2017, Colombia managed to plant 1.1 million new hectares in 26 departments, which generated the production of 4.5 million additional tons and 307,490 new direct jobs.

Source: BMI Research, DANE, Banco Mundial, Ministerio de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural, Finagro, Fondo Internacional para Desarrollo Agrícola, Fedesarrollo