Colombia - Commercial Guide
Agricultural Sector

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

Overview
Colombia’s agricultural output grew by about 2.8 percent in 2018, a modest decrease over the previous year. Businesses dealing with livestock performed particularly well, with poultry farms growing at a rate of 6.1 percent and egg harvesters at 7.5 percent, according to the country’s statistics agency DANE. The swine business grew 20 percent during the same period.

The Government of Colombia offers subsidies to import new agricultural equipment. Although Colombia does not ban the import of used agricultural equipment, there is a general preference for new equipment due to subsidies and performance issues with used equipment. Most used agricultural equipment originating from the U.S. comes with technologies such as GPS, air conditioning, hydraulic steering, and other features that make this equipment relatively expensive for the Colombian market. Colombia’s larger growers usually prefer to buy new agricultural equipment without state-of-the-art gadgets because the prices are lower.

According to the National Federation of Poultry Farmers of Colombia (FENAVI) and the Colombian Pork Producers Association (PorkColombia), the agriculture sector is expected to grow 2.5 percent in 2019, driven mainly by poultry, eggs, and swine. One of the best prospects for U.S. exporters is machinery and technologies for Colombia’s domestic poultry industry, an industry the Colombian Government is keen to promote through mechanisms such as subsidies on new, imported agricultural equipment. There is a demand for sophisticated technologies used in the agriculture sector in Colombia, such as GPS, but most farms do not have the resources for such purchases. It is therefore imperative that the U.S. exporter explain the long-term value proposition of products and technologies that ultimately reduce cost, save time, have a lower environmental impact, and are of higher quality. Colombia is a price-sensitive market and there is still a tendency to look at an initial price and short-term cost over long-term value and total cost.  

Although farmers appreciate the added value of higher-quality fertilizer products, they are typically unable to buy them due to low returns in the Colombian agriculture market. Instead, many opt for a wide variety of fertilizers available in the local market that are relatively cheap. Urea is one such fertilizer and is popular because it is widely available and often produced locally or imported at low prices. Similar to agriculture equipment, U.S. companies selling higher technology inputs will need to articulate their value proposition (higher yields, less frequent application, etc.) and demonstrate cost savings over the long run. Education is needed to encourage the sector to focus on long term value and total cost. Fertilizer generally needs to comply with ICA (Colombian Agricultural Institute) requirements to be imported into Colombia. This process may take up to three years and costs USD 5,000 – USD 8,000 per product; registration must be done by a Colombian company, which results in the “owning” the registration.


Table 2: Colombia’s Imports of Urea by Country
 

Partner Country

United States Dollars

% Share

% Change

2016

2017

2018

2016

2017

2018

2018/2017

World

$119,388,823.00

$175,664,281.00

$183,930,132.00

  100.00

  100.00

  100.00

  4.71

Russia

$11,332,421.00

$20,370,807.00

$60,115,657.00

  9.49

  11.60

  32.68

  195.11

Trinidad and Tobago

$12,768,948.00

$21,164,673.00

$33,518,434.00

  10.70

  12.05

  18.22

  58.37

Venezuela

$60,217,531.00

$72,286,394.00

$31,844,983.00

  50.44

  41.15

  17.31

 - 55.95

Algeria

$0.00

$0.00

$17,281,383.00

  0.00

  0.00

  9.40

  0.00

China

$29,364,871.00

$26,409,845.00

$14,035,751.00

  24.60

  15.03

  7.63

 - 46.85

Nigeria

$0.00

$0.00

$10,522,778.00

  0.00

  0.00

  5.72

  0.00

United States

$99,248.00

$17,507,218.00

$4,693,821.00

  0.08

  9.97

  2.55

 - 73.19

 

The growth trend in imports of fertilizer can be explained by a relatively strong harvest in Colombia’s agricultural sector in 2018. 

Leading Sub-Sectors        
According to figures from the National Federation of Poultry Farmers of Colombia (FENAVI) and the Colombian Pork Producers Association (PorkColombia), poultry, eggs, and swine showed an increasing trend in 2018, both in terms of domestic production and imports.  U.S. agricultural exports to Colombia of meat products and grains have been performing particularly well over the last several years. Exports of frozen pork, poultry, and beef have seen strong growth, as have dairy products and beans (especially lentils). In addition, the United States’ exports of live animals to Colombia were up in 2018 and were mainly for reproductive applications (animal husbandry). Best prospects for agriculture exports to Colombia encompass machinery and equipment for Colombia’s growing domestic production of poultry, eggs, and pork.  

Colombia is the fourth biggest producer of palm oil in the world and the first in the Americas.

In 2018, total palm oil production in Colombia was 1.6 million tons, a .5 percent decrease compared to 2017. Colombia has more than 500,000 hectares (1.2 million acres) of palm plantations, and this industry is projected to grow significantly in the coming years. Palm oil is used in a wide range of food and household products, from cookies and ice cream to soups and cosmetics, as well as in biofuels. Colombia’s cultivation of palm oil could reach production of more than 2.5 tons in the next several years, making Colombia the third-largest supplier of palm oil in the world, behind Indonesia and Malaysia. The planting of more palm crops will depend on the implementation of government policies that increase investment in the sector. Colombia has about 16 million hectares that are suitable for palm oil cultivation. Growers require more clarity on land-use rules and a reduced tax load, as well as labor policies for rural areas.   

Colombia’s palm oil industry will generate opportunities for U.S. companies that provide new technologies and equipment for palm oil extraction as well as for U.S. companies interested in investing in this sector. The U.S. embassy is working with Colombia’s palm industry through agencies like USAID and the Department of Labor to promote environmental sustainability and fair labor practices, and U.S. companies that offer products and services that promote sound environmental practices should find growing opportunities in this sector.   

Opportunities    
Colombia is the 18th largest market for U.S. agricultural equipment exports. The U.S.- Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) provided immediate tariff reduction to zero percent from 10 percent on combines, to zero percent from 15 percent on tractors, and reductions on other equipment. The TPA eliminated Colombia’s restrictions on the importation of re-manufactured goods, and the Government of Colombia is encouraging farmers to participate in lease programs.


After a peace accord was signed in 2016 between the Government of Colombia and the FARC guerrillas, the agricultural sector has been one of the biggest beneficiaries since rural development is one of the government’s priority sectors in the post-accord era. Many of the demobilized combatants will migrate to cities in search of employment opportunities, but the government wants to make jobs available in the countryside and remote areas where the FARC has been living and operating for decades. 

Trade Events

AgroExpo

Agro-industry and livestock exhibition that takes place in Bogota, Colombia, every two years in the month of July.

Expo Agrofuturo

Knowledge and business trade show for the agricultural sector in Colombia that takes place in September. Expo Agrofuturo has become one of the most effective marketing tools to promote products, land use, and investment in Colombia’s agricultural sector. It takes place every year in September.

Palmex Latin America

The only specialized Palm Oil exhibition in Latin America brings together upstream and downstream palm oil companies and supporting industries. The event takes place in the city of Barranquilla to showcase the latest developments in the palm oil industry.  

 Sugarex Colombia

Sugar expo and conference held once every two years in the city of Cali. It is Colombia’s largest specialized sugar and bioethanol technology event that brings together sugar companies and supporting industries. The event showcases the latest developments in the Colombian sugar and ethanol industries.  

Cafes de Colombia Expo 2019

Web Resources                                
U.S. Commercial Service Bogota contact: Julio Acero, Commercial Assistant 
Email: julio.acero@trade.gov  
Tel: 57 1 275 2635

Key Contacts 

DANE

Federación Nacional de Avicultores de Colombia

Asociación Colombiana de Porcicultores (PorkColombia)  

Ministerio de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural (MADR)