Colombia: First Stone Laying of the Port of Urabá
On April 23, the first stone was laid to construct the maritime terminal in the Gulf of Urabá. Construction is estimated to be completed by 2025.
The port has projected an investment plan of nearly US$400 million for the construction of a pier with five berthing positions and a double lane viaduct for the traffic of trucks between the platform and the port on land, which will allow the fluidity of up to eight tractor-trailers.
The concession will last for 30 years, and the port terminal will be designed to serve container ships of up to 366 meters in length and 14,000 cargo containers, with a depth of 14.5 meters. It will specialize in general and container cargo and handle vehicles and products such as cereals, plantains, and bananas.
The terminal will be the "jewel in the crown" in Urabá, driven by the operation of two 4G highways built (Mar 1 and Mar 2) and the Toyo tunnel. It will be added to the Colombian Caribbean port terminals. It will become the closest to the departments of Antioquia, Cundinamarca, and the Coffee Region, which together generate 70% of the country's GDP.
Compared to Cartagena alone, the establishment of Turbo as a large terminal would bring the country's main cities closer to the sea. In the case of Bogotá, separated by 1,136 kilometres from Cartagena, the connection with the port would represent a reduction of 398 kilometres of travel, equivalent to 35% less.
Likewise, in the case of cities such as Manizales, Pereira, and Armenia, it would represent a reduction of 29%, 27% and 12%, respectively.
“Mission accomplished, promise fulfilled," said President Iván Duque Márquez, referring to the laying of the first stone.
The port will be crucial for exporting bananas, which are usually loaded in the bay in much slower and more expensive operations. In addition to President Duque, the Minister of Agriculture, Rodolfo Zea, and top executives from Augura, including the President of the Board of Directors, Jaime Henríquez Gallo, and the President of the union, Emerson Aguirre, participated in the event.
In his speech, the President highlighted some of his Government's achievements in reactivating the countryside, including sanitary and phytosanitary diplomacy, which translated into the most significant agricultural exports achieved by the country in 2021, with the projection that they will increase by 2022.
Duque also cited, as part of the balance of his administration in agricultural matters, the 300,000 producers benefiting from the marketing strategy of 'Agriculture by Contract', the historical investment in tertiary roads, the delivery of 52,000 rural property titles and the access of Colombian products (such as Hass avocado, green paprika and Tahiti lemon) in new international markets.
It should be noted that during the period of the current Government (August 2018 – March 2022), 7,520 credit operations have been registered for the banana sector, worth $1.02 billion.
In this same period, 1,754 loans with a subsidized interest rate (LEC) were allocated to the banana sector, which granted a subsidy worth $6,381 million and leveraged credits worth $68,721 million, with an investment of $77,484 million.
The banana sector has 1,604 producers linked to the Contract Farming strategy, with total sales estimated at 92 billion pesos and 26 business partners.
According to the Augura report delivered during the event, banana exports from Colombia totalled the US $898 million in 2021, for 111 million boxes.
Of these, Urabá represents 69.7 million boxes worth US$ 548 million. Meanwhile, Magdalena and La Guajira exported 41.2 million boxes, US$350 million, showing a 9.6% growth in banana export volume from these areas.
The member countries of the European Union participated with 61.5% of exports, for a total of 68.2 million boxes; followed by the United States, with 18.2 million boxes, and in third place the United Kingdom, with 14.5 million boxes. The rise in exports to the United States was significant, with an additional 1.6 million boxes.
Key figures of the banana sector
Banana is the fruit most produced in Colombia, with 2,436,424 tons in 2020 and a production projection of around more than 2,490,000 tons by 2021. It is Colombia's third agricultural export product, after coffee and flowers.
The participation of the value of banana production in the total Agricultural GDP is 5.3%.
It generates employment in 293,648 between direct and indirect throughout the country.
In Colombia, 35,139 families in 22 departments and 204 municipalities depend on this activity.
The most important departments in bananas are: Antioquia (58%), Magdalena (31.3%), Valle del Cauca (3%), Cundinamarca (3%) and Quindío (2%).
Urabá currently has about 100,000 cultivated hectares, but it has enormous growth potential, with close to a million hectares available to grow new crops.