Thu. Feb 20th, 2020

Colombia and the challenge of exporting 600 million flowers for Valentine’s Day



Colombia finalizes the details for the most important date of the year of the floricultural sector: Valentine’s Day, a celebration that requires an ambitious logistic and commercial operation to export some 600 million flowers, mainly to the United States.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, flowers represent 9.6% of exports of non-mining energy products, which ratifies this sector as one of the most important to boost the country’s economy.

FLORID FLIGHTS TO THE USA

During the Valentine’s season, that is, the first two weeks of February, more than 114 flights depart from El Dorado airport in Bogotá loaded with 12,000 tons of flowers to the US.

The head of logistics of the Colombian Association of Flower Exporters (Asocolflores), Carolina Pantoja, explained to Efe that the Colombian product reaches “more than 100 countries”.

“All this is possible thanks to a large logistics operation that allows us to export flowers, but also to the feelings that emerge for this very special date,” he said.

According to the association, the floricultural sector generates 130,000 formal jobs and benefits more than 600,000 people with job opportunities.

Since the flowers are collected on the farms, mainly located in the Savannah of Bogotá, until they reach distributors in the United States, it takes 15 to 19 hours, Pantoja said.

In that sense, the general director of Avianca Cargo, Kurt Schosinsky, told Efe that when the flowers arrive at the airport in “the logistics process involved more than 1,300 people who are responsible for all the work of review, selection and loading of flowers on airplanes. “

THE CHALLENGES OF THE OPERATION

The climatic, biological and logistical issues in some moments suppose a barrier for the exports of the Colombian flowers.

For example, cooler nights and early nights affect stems and petals.

“Florists have an information and contingency system that allows them to act adequately in the face of this problem of low temperatures. These have been processes that have been learned from experiences in previous years,” said the head of logistics at Asocolflores.

On the other hand, Pantoja mentioned among the biological subjects the small insects that stick to the flowers, remove the pollen and deform them, which has forced the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) to make thorough reviews to prevent these animals, that can become pests, reach other countries.

Upon passing the biohazard control, the flowers are delivered to the airlines in charge of their transport, which carry out a joint work with the Police to prevent any illicit substance from slipping into the cargoes.

“In the past there were problems in the logistics chain because there were people who wanted to take advantage of the volume of cargo presented by this date and tried to camouflage drugs in the boxes or in the flowers themselves,” Colonel Ricardo Sánchez, director, told Efe of Police Antinarcotics.

Sanchéz added that “today, thanks to the scanner review process and also to the anti-narcotic canine team, we have managed to avoid such incidents.”

THE FUTURE OF THE SECTOR

For the president of Ascolflores, Augusto Solano, it is essential to “innovate and have new varieties that are attractive, logistic and market level”.

“It should be sought that the processes require less physical documentation and are carried out virtually, we must also have mechanisms that attract young people promoting the emotional impact that flowers provide,” he told Efe.

For his part, the Minister of Agriculture, Andrés Valencia, said that for this the Government has “Plan 2030” which seeks to improve the market for flowers in the country.

“The idea is to encourage market research research and develop promotional and marketing activities,” he concluded.

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