Colombia’s flower industry, known for its vibrant and diverse blooms, stands as a major player in the global market. In 2021, the nation marked a milestone with flower exports exceeding $1.4 billion, demonstrating its substantial share in the global flower market. Roses, celebrated for their beauty and variety, are the most exported flower, with the United States as the primary market.
The journey of Colombia’s flower industry began decades ago, capitalizing on natural assets such as fertile soils and extended sunlight. The country’s shift towards a free-trade approach in the late 1960s under President Carlos Lleras was crucial to diversifying exports and enhancing the flower trade. Today, Colombia is second only to the Netherlands in the world flower trade, with exports in 2022 reaching $2 billion, a 19% increase from the previous year.
Challenges and government initiatives
The Colombian flower industry, despite its growth, faces challenges including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a notable number of order cancellations in 2020. Transportation issues also affect the quality and freshness of flowers. The Colombian government has responded by giving tax breaks and reducing bureaucratic hurdles. Collaboration with organizations like Asocolflores and initiatives to promote flower tourism are part of the strategy to sustain and grow the industry.
The industry is a key employer in Colombia, providing jobs to around 130,000 people, predominantly women. There are challenges such as long working hours, low wages, and job insecurity, and efforts are ongoing to improve labor conditions and ensure the industry’s sustainable growth.
Innovation and sustainability
Colombian flower farms contribute significantly to the economy and are at the forefront of sustainability and community development. The industry’s dedication to eco-friendly practices and reducing carbon footprints is notable. Certification from organizations like Asocolflores and Florverde Sustainable Flowers are central to maintaining high social and environmental standards.
The Colombian flower industry, characterized by its ongoing innovation and market exploration, receives support from the government. This support, in conjunction with the industry’s adaptability and business approaches, contributes to Colombia’s role in the global flower market. The industry’s initiatives include focusing on women’s empowerment and sustainability practices.