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Colombia commits itself to cacao

The first two ICA-registered cacao clones and the decision to plant a further 100,000 hectares together make for interesting investment opportunities in the sector in Colombia.

Cacao, a grain whose origin dates back to the 9th century B.C. and which was even used as currency in Pre-Hispanic Mexico, is nowadays an investment alternative in Colombia, where a production figure of 50,000 tonnes is envisaged this year.

Why is it attractive to invest in this perennial crop which is planted at heights of less than 1,200 meters above sea level, takes five or six years to produce the first harvest, and whose price, as with any agricultural product, depends on local and worldwide supply and demand?

The answer is simple, and the figures confirm it. The world currently produces 3.9 million tonnes of cacao, and the Ivory Coast, in Africa, tops the list with 1.6 million tonnes. The International Cacao Organization (ICCO) nevertheless calculates that there will be a worldwide deficit of 156,000 tonnes of cacao in 2014, and if production does not increase, in 2020 there will be a shortage.

And this is without taking into account the fact that only 5% of total world production is of cacao with a fine flavor and aroma, which is precisely the type of cacao produced in Colombia, where the entire harvest goes to the domestic market.

“Our cacao is good, but it’s not known around the world”, says Eduard Baquero López, Executive President of the National Cacao Producers Federation, a non-profit organization formed in 1960 which is a member of the National Cacao Council and manages monies through the National Cacao Fund that are specifically allocated to sector support activities.

Other countries are unaware of our great potential, simply because the country’s entire production is purchased by confectionery and chocolate sector companies such as Compañía Nacional de Chocolates, Casa Luker, Colombina and Aldor, which produce solid chocolate for making a chocolate beverage and other items.

Unlike the rest of the world, most of the chocolate consumed in Colombia is in liquid form and with low cacao percentages, whereas chocolate confectionery with a cacao content of more than 70% is preferred in Europe.

Plant and renew
Colombia has been self-sufficient in cacao since the 1980s and has only imported at certain times, because production has also been growing. According to Fedecacao figures, 37,000 tonnes were produced three years ago, 41,000 two years ago, and 47,000 in 2013.

Local industry demand is around 40,000 tonnes, on average. With the surplus last year, 7,000 tonnes were therefore exported to countries like Mexico, Italy, Spain, Belgium and France.

Encouraged by the increase in worldwide demand and because cacao also has the potential to replace illicit crops, the national government’s Ministry of Agriculture is fostering the planting of a further 100,000 hectares of cacao and the renewal of 80,000 old hectares of the crop over the next two years.

The government’s target is to achieve a figure of one million new hectares planted, with a view to surpluses being produced for export and to making Colombian cacao with a fine flavor and aroma known on the world market.

To achieve this, the country has around 50,000 farmers, each with an average of 3.5 hectares, meaning there are 150,000 hectares in total already planted, in and around 350 municipalities. The main producer town is San Vicente de Chucurí, in Santander province.

“Cacao is an ideal substitute for illicit crops. We’ve planted cacao in many places where coca used to be grown, and the farmers now earn their living from a worthy, legal activity with adequate funds, but these are still isolated efforts”, explains Baquero López.

It costs an average of ten million pesos to plant one hectare. How soon the million hectare target is reached will therefore depend on how quickly funding can be obtained and the interest shown by potential investors, because the effort could take a decade and the plantation last a century.

Analysts estimate that the renewal process will result in production at least doubling at plantations that are today producing between 150 and 300 kilograms per year.

César García, the chocolate, confectionery and raw materials sector manager for the Production Transformation Program (PTP), which is attached to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism, explained that with sufficient investment in crops, the country could eventually produce 1.5 or 2 tonnes per year per hectare, figures that are similar to those achieved in countries like Ecuador, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, which also produce a fine cacao with aroma.

New clones
The lack of suitable vegetable matter has also prevented Colombia from increasing crop productivity. The Ministry of Agriculture and the Colombian Farming Research Corporation (Corpoica) have nevertheless just released the first two cacao clones registered in Colombia, which will simplify crop standardization and productivity for farmers.

According to the Ministry, these clones are noted for their stability, grain size, precocity, productivity, and resistance to disease. At the same time, the vegetable matter will pave the way for financing, because demand from the international market is envisaged.

The clones retain the fine cacao with aroma characteristics that have typified the Colombian grain. The next step is to propagate them so they can be acquired and grown in the different cacao production areas around the country, because they meet international standards.

The government, the business community, agro-industrialists and farmers are also working hard to strengthen associations, so that it will be possible to also draw an organoleptic map that will enable Colombian cacao characteristics to be identified by production region.

“The PTP carried out a pilot program and Corpoica will help cacao farmers to identify characteristics, so that these can be a commercial tool, but it’s a process that could take two or three years”, explained García, after insisting that certain characteristics could be deemed ‘premium’ on the international market.

If the full organoleptic map is produced, farmers will be able to improve post-harvest processes, because according to the National Cacao Council, 60% of the quality of Colombian cacao is lost in those processes.


Did you know?

  1. 1.  Colombia is one of the few countries in the world where solid chocolate is used for making a chocolate drink.
  2. 2.  Ecuador produces cacao solely for export.
  3. 3.  Peru is concentrating on producing organic cacao.
  4. 4.  Cacao supplies in Africa are declining because of climate change.
  5. 5.  A Colombian consumes an average of two kilos of cacao per year (even if every day he drinks hot chocolate, which has a low cacao content).
  6. 6.  Someone from Switzerland, a Belgian or a European consumes up to 16 kilos of cacao per year, because of the high cacao content of chocolate bars and sweets.
  7. 7.  Colombia has identified 600,000 hectares of land where top quality cacao can be produced.
  8. 8.  Investors can forge alliances with sector companies such as Nutresa, Aldor and Colombina for placing Colombian cacao on international markets.
  9. 9.  The average purchase price for cacao is currently COP 5,100 per kilogram.
  10. 10.  China and India are starting to consume cacao.


“Nowadays, Colombia potentially has access to roughly 1,450 million possible consumers, as a result of commercial agreements that have been signed”. Santiago Rojas Arroyo, Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism.

“We have a strong business base, one that wants to be innovative and enterprising; the state is offering a number of instruments to ensure this. We are working with the regions on competitiveness, internationalizing the economy, and exploiting existing agreements”. Santiago Rojas Arroyo, Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism.

“This step that is being taken will have not just a regional impact, but a national one as well, because these clones are going to be tested in other parts of the country, and the eyes of the world will be on us”. Rubén Darío Lizarralde, Minister of Agriculture.

 

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A New Life in the Capital

 

Expat in Bogotá? The city offers everything you need to make you and your family feel at ease, even though you are far away from home. Some things you should bear in mind are described below.

 

Home, Sweet Home

In Bogotá, as elsewhere in the country, rental costs depend not only on the size of the accommodation but also on the area where the property is located.

Colombia is divided into what are known as "social strata": the higher the stratum, the higher the rent and the cost of public utilities. 1 and 2 are the lowest strata, 3 and 4 are middle class, and 5 and 6 are the most exclusive areas.

When you are looking for an apartment or house to rent, some agencies will request documents like a job certificate, references and an application form, but these requirements may vary, depending on the entity and the type of contract. In some cases you will also be required to make a deposit equivalent to one month's rent. This money will be returned to you when the contract ends, or on some other date agreed upon between you and the landlord.

To make your search for a home easier, you might like to consult websites such as www.metrocuadrado.com, www.zonaprop.com.co and www.finacaraiz.com.co, which provide useful information about things like whether a property is furnished or not, what the rent is, approximate utility costs, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and the area where the property is located, and you can even see some photos. Announcements are generally accompanied by a telephone number, so you can arrange a visit to the place.

Other websites, such as www.amoblado.com, offer furnished apartments in the best neighborhoods in Bogotá, for either short or long stays.

Break Time's Over

Looking for schools and universities for your children will not become a headache. Bogotá has more than 1,500 education establishments, offering primary, secondary and further education.

The schools with the highest academic levels in the city teach one or two languages in addition to Spanish, offer the International Baccalaureate and research programs, and are endorsed by the governments of other countries.

According to the magazine "Dinero", some of the best schools in Bogotá are:

Gimnasio Vermont

Mixed

Spanish, English and Mandarin

San Jorge de Inglaterra

Mixed

Spanish, English and French

Los Nogales

Mixed

Spanish and English

Ciedi

Mixed

Spanish and English

La Colina

Mixed

Spanish and English

Calatrava

Mixed

Spanish and English

Santa Francisca Romana

Girls

Spanish, English and French

Gimnasio Alessandro Volta

Mixed

Spanish, English and Italian

The full list of schools can be seen at: http://www.dinero.com/edicion-impresa/caratula/articulo/los-100-mejores-colegios-bogota-cundinamarca/165162

If you would like to search on your own, at the website www.losmejorescolegios.com you will find a full guide, with information about everything from year founded to the enrolment fee.

Professional Matters

If you are going to work in Colombia, you should bear in mind that there are four types of business visa in the country.

If you intend to engage in commercial and business activities, foster economic exchanges, make investments and set up a company in Colombia, you should apply for visa NE1.

 

Should you be entering the country on a temporary basis to do business under current international instruments like free trade agreements, association agreements or the Pacific Alliance, or to promote business, carry out investments, establish the commercial presence of a company or foster the trading of cross-border goods or services, the visa you should apply for is NE2.

If you are going to enter the country as head or representative of a foreign, governmental commercial office, you will need visa NE3.

 

The final type of business visa is NE4, which should be applied for by someone who enters the country as president or top-ranking director of a multinational to make investments and set up a company.

A visa can be applied for online via the State Department (cancillería) website, www.cancilleria.gov.co. The service is available 24 hours a day, every day of the week, from anywhere in the world. On the website you will also find details of the requirements that need to be met for the application, together with numbers you can contact if you have any doubts or queries.

DESTACADOS

According to the 2010 census, Bogotá has 7,363,782 inhabitants.

Colombia's capital city boasts a wide range of cultural activities and a varied cuisine.

A favorite Sunday morning activity for Bogotanos is to go out to walk or jog. El Virrey Park is one of the most popular spots.

Bienestar1  Guía inversionistas en Medellín

 

Medellín, where doors are always open

On arrival in Colombia's most important city after Bogotá, visitors will be greeted by a pleasant, spring-like climate, friendly people, and many reasons to stay. The useful information given below will enable foreign visitors to enjoy the capital of Antioquia province to the full.

General Information

Population, Metropolitan Area: 3.6 million inhabitants

Name given to local people: 'medellinense', or 'paisa'

Area: 381 square kilometers

Average temperature: 24°C

Province: Antioquia

Principal economic activities: textile industry, trade and services

Mayor: Aníbal Gaviria

Where to stay

Medellín boasts a wide range of accommodation options, with prices depending on location and type. According to the Medellin.travel website, the average cost of a single room in the central zone and surrounding area is $97,300, while a double costs $112,000. Anyone looking for a more luxurious stay should head for the west-center zone (Laureles and El Estadio), where single rooms start at $120,000 and doubles at $145,000, or the southeast zone (El Poblado), where the respective prices are approximately $280,000 and $350,000.

Generally speaking, El Poblado and Laureles are the areas where foreigners who go to Medellín to live look for accommodation, and rental charges are similar in each. According to specialist home rental websites like Metrocuadrado.com, a two-bedroom, 100m2 apartment in El Poblado costs around $1,500,000 pesos per month, while the monthly rent for a similar property in the Laureles sector is $1,200,000.

What to do

The capital of Antioquia province is a business destination, but it also boasts a wide variety of culture and leisure activities, and ample opportunities to get close to nature. Various personalized, group or traditional tours of the city can also be enjoyed in the company of certified, bilingual guides.

  • Shopping trips. Visit the more than 25 malls and buy fashion goods at excellent prices.
  • Religious route. Go to churches (there are more than 350) and religious monuments.
  • Nature routes and adventure tours. Travel to towns and villages near Medellín and discover their traditions. Extreme sports and ecotourism options are also available. Nearby destinations not to be missed include Santa Fe de Antioquia, El Peñol, Rionegro, Jardín and Jericó.
  • Culture and history route. Discover art in museums and theaters; enjoy historic buildings, squares and parks in the open air.
  • Notable among the variety of places to visit are the Museum of Antioquia, the Medellín Museum of Modern Art, Explora Park, the Joaquín Antonio Uribe Botanical Gardens, Lleras Park and Cisneros Square (also called the Park of Lights).
  • Gastronomic tour. Savor delicious dishes from the menus of restaurants specializing in local cuisine (bandeja paisa and mondongo are the best-known), as well as national and international cooking. Head for the Lleras Park, Laureles, La Milla de Oro or Las Palmas areas, or visit acclaimed, traditional restaurants in the city such as Carmen, San Carbón, Mystique and El Cielo.

For more information, go to:

http://www.colombia.travel/es/turista-internacional/destino/medellin

How to get around

The so-called City of Eternal Spring has the most modern mass transportation system in Latin America, consisting of the Metro, Metrocable and Metroplús. These can be used for traveling around the city and discovering the main tourist attractions. Rental cars are available at a cost of approximately $2,000,000 per month. You can also get around by taxi, ordering your vehicle through the mobile apps. Easytaxi or Tappsi.

As you travel around, bear in mind that roads labeled as carreras run parallel to the River Medellín, which crosses the city from south to north, and their numbers rise as you go from east to west, while those named calles run from east to west and their numbering increases from south to north. Similarly, remember that distances are measured in blocks, each of which is about 90 meters.

The information in the following Table will help you get to where you are going easily.

Names

Calle or Carrera

Ayacucho

Calle 49

Avenida Nutibara

Transversal 39B

Bolívar

Carrera 51

Carabobo

Carrera 52

Avenida de Greiff

Calle 53

Avenida los Industriales

Carrera 48

Avenida El Poblado

Carrera 43

Avenida Ferrocarril

Carrera 55

Argentina

Calle 57

Pasaje Coltejer

Calle 47

Transversal Inferior

Carrera 30

Transversal Superior

Carrera 25

How to dress

Cool, cotton clothing is recommended, in view of the temperate climate. However, the temperature is lower in nearby towns like Rionegro, where José María Córdova International Airport is located, and suitable protective clothes should be worn. Before setting out on a trip to places around Medellín, check what the climate is like there, and dress accordingly.

Where to find information

A number of Tourist Information Points (referred to as PITs) have been opened in the city, in order to provide visitors with the best guidance possible. These have been specially designed to offer practical information about transportation, hotels, restaurants, cultural, sporting and leisure activities, tours, and the region's attractions. Some of the PITs you will find in Medellín are listed below.

  1. PIT José María Córdova Airport: situated in the international arrivals hall, and open 7.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m., Monday thru Friday, and 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Telephone: (57-4) 562 2885.
  2. PIT Olaya Herrera Airport: located in the passenger arrivals hall, adjacent to the baggage reclaim belts. Open daily from 7.00 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. Telephone: (57-4) 285 1048.
  3. PIT Pueblito Paisa: situated at the roundabout that can be seen on reaching the top of Nutibara Hill. Open Monday thru Friday, 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. Telephone: (57-4) 265 9549.
  4. PIT Plaza Mayor: on the first floor of the Caja de Madera. Times of opening depend on each week's events. Generally open from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Telephones: (57-4) 232 1624 / (57-4) 261 7277.

Further information: Medellin.travel.

Consulates

There are more than 20 consulates in Medellín where legal matters can be dealt with or general information provided about the city. Countries like Germany, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Italy and France, among others, have consulates in the provincial capital of Antioquia for the benefit of visitors from those countries.

The best schools

According to Dinero magazine's ranking of the best schools in 2013, the five most outstanding education establishments in Medellín, based on Colombian Education Evaluation Institute (ICFES) exam results, are:

  • Colegio de la Compañía de María
  • Colegio Montessori
  • Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola
  • Instituto Musical Diego Echavarría
  • Colegio Gimnasio Los Pinares

DESTACADOS

In addition to being a business destination, the city boasts a wide range of activities. One option is to join various personalized, group or traditional tours in the company of certified, bilingual guides.

Medellin has the most modern mass transportation system in Latin America, consisting of the Metro, Metrocable and Metroplús.

In the exclusive El Poblado sector, it costs around $1,500,000 pesos per month to rent a two-bedroom, 100m2 apartment.

A recurring concern among foreigners is the question of security in the capital of Antioquia province; Medellín City Hall has a budget of $172,000 million for reinforcing security in 2014.

Sectors

Find more information about sector opportunities.
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Proexport Colombia  is the bureau in charge of tourism, foreign investment and export promotion in Colombia.

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