Coca plantations in Serrania de Abibe, Colombia, will likely receive part of the 3,000 banana labourers from 32 plantations which are about to close in Urabá.
This was predicted by Guillermo Rivera Zapata, president of Sintrainagro, when referring to the crisis of this activity, which generates 100,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region, assuring that last year around 4,000 people were made redundant.
Zapata’s concerns are shared by entrepreneurs like Gabriel Harry Hinestroza, who believes that the Government should take the growing unemployment seriously, as criminal armed organisations could take advantage of it.

While there is widespread demand for the adoption of corrective measures to help the banana sector, plans to improve the economic sustainability of agribusinesses are still underway.

Experts say that Urabá’s economy developed exclusively around banana growing, but they also agree that it is becoming necessary to complement that with other forms of business.

The regional Chamber of Commerce states that, despite difficulties, there have been attempts to diversify the crops, although they also believe that not much will change if the products are to be exported, as they will be subject to revaluations, just like bananas today.

Sintrainagro supports diversification, but also concludes that generating the same levels of employment as the banana sector is very difficult.

“They proposed oil palm growing, but that crop does not require intensive labour. While a 200 hectare banana plantation generates 300 jobs, a palm oil one with the same acreage would only need 25 people, so that is not an alternative,” says Rivera.

Meanwhile, the Manager of Colombia’s Horticultural Association (Asohofrucol), Álvaro Ernesto Palacio Peláez, critisises Urabá’s low banana productivity. “While one hectare produces 7.5 tonnes in one area, in Eje Cafetero the production reaches 15 tonnes and in Orinoquía up to 30 tonnes per hectare.”

Source: El Colombiano