The coffee region forms the next frontier for floriculture in Colombia
Julian Perez of Major Farm Direct and Florius Flowers explains the benefits:
The majority of the flowers produced in Colombia are grown in the Cundinamarca Department (72%) and Antioquia Department (27)% whereas only a small percentage (1%) is grown in the coffee region. According to Julian Perez of Major Farm Direct and Florius Flowers, this is a missed opportunity for growers. In this article, he explains why the coffee region in Colombia is perfectly suited for most flower needs and how his farms thrive in this area.
Julian Perez at Proflora
So, what are the opportunities? "There are plenty of advantages to the coffee region, one being that it is still relatively new for flower cultivation. And the quality? It is as good as in the major flower-growing regions in Colombia. And you have one big advantage: the sea levels. If you try growing on different sea levels, you can increase the production speeds of growth. For example, in the Bogotá savanna area, the production of Lisianthus takes about 20 to 30 weeks, but at our farm in the coffee region, it's just 9 to 13 weeks. From as low as 600 meters above sea level to 2,500 meters above sea level, there is enough variation for every variety. On top of that, the land is still 'fresh.' We even see some foliage growers from the Bogotá savanna region moving to the coffee region because they are, unfortunately, dealing with some diseases that are hard to control."
The coffee region has a 'rolling terrain' and 'ladera' (hillside slopes), which present their own unique set of advantages, he explains. "This specific topography is highly suitable for floriculture."
In terms of costs, it's also completely different compared to more known flower regions in the country, he continues. "A piece of land like ours would set you back around 125,000 dollars over there, but here in the coffee region, 12,500 dollars, a good ten times less. Labor-wise, the coffee region has many coffee pickers, and their hands know how to treat flowers. On top of that, there is availability of labor as ladies usually do not work as much as in the other regions, but when they get a job offered, they will take it."
A common misconception about the region is that transportation would be more difficult than from other regions, but this is a myth that Perez has already busted. "We have a good connection to the airport, and despite it being a slightly longer journey for our trucks, since we often leave earlier, they aren't stuck in traffic as much as in Bogota when going to El Dorado airport. Especially with the new tunnels that go from the coffee region to Cundinamarca (Bogota D.C), this journey has been easier than ever."
Farms thriving coffee region
Perez has been in the foliage business for 18 years. At his 10-ha farm, Major Farm Direct, he is growing several varieties of grasses and shipping around 250,000 stems a week, mainly to the Bogota Bouquet Makers, Netherlands, and the US. He is a proud supporter of the floral developments in the coffee region, and in 2016, for example, he met Willum van den Hoogen of Florius in Dubai, who already grew flowers in Kenya and Ethiopia at that time. "He asked me if I knew a location to grow with specific climatological requirements and sea level. And I knew an area in the coffee region. And now, they are growing mainly Veronicas (and other types of flowers) in the Valle del Cauca, the coffee region. Every Month, around one million Veronicas leave the farm. Currently, 16ha is in production, but in the future, they are planning to expand the cultivation acreage to 100 ha. At the same time, they are planning to expand their assortment of flowers.
"For me, the coffee region forms the next frontier for floriculture in Colombia and will definitely play a big part in the development of floriculture in the country," he concludes.
For more information:
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Publication date: Fri 20 Oct 2023
Author: Maurits Jacobs