Jonathan Hurtado

Technology and Professionalization Boost Flowers in Colombia

The Latin American country, known worldwide for its aromatic and tasty coffee, has more to offer than one can imagine. Colombia ranks second in global exports of flowers, behind only the Netherlands. The flower sector in the country, which annually exports $1,300 million, changed the reality of rural workers and entire communities. Things could not be different, as Colombia has found a very efficient formula for growing flowers that are more and more beautiful and lasting – uniting the traditional knowledge of its people and technology.

I have followed up very closely the relationship of Colombians with flowers. Working with phytosanitary management in flower cultivation after graduating from university, I became aware of the achievements and challenges faced in the segment, and to understand how difficult it is to care for these delicate plants. That is what motivated me to help flower growers with solutions that bring improvements both to the crops and to the people involved.

In Colombia, flower production generates at least 130,000 formal jobs, concentrating the largest labor force in the country – each hectare can employ up to 15 workers. And from the technological standpoint, the advances are limitless. The cultivation of flowers is among the most technical areas of Colombia production sector. To give you an idea, in crop protection products alone, at least $10,000 are invested per hectare annually.

The production of flowers occurs in greenhouses, which today are equipped with sensors capable of assisting in the control of the environment. The amount of water used is controlled through automatic irrigation systems, light needed with UV monitoring, and the ideal temperature is determined through algorithms and smart systems. All of these to meet scheduled harvests which are guaranteed to fulfill, without delays, the several demands during the year: Valentine’s Day, on February 14; Mother’s Day, in May (in many countries).

Jonathan Hurtado, Key Account Manager for Flowers and Cane at Bayer Colombia
Jonathan Hurtado, Key Account Manager for Flowers and Cane at Bayer Colombia
Jonathan Hurtado,
Key Account Manager for Flowers and Cane at Bayer Colombia

Always committed to transforming agriculture Bayer partners hand in hand with flower growers through highly relevant initiatives, such as the Allianza+, a program, created especially by Bayer Colombia to provide solutions that integrate technology, sustainability, application techniques, and knowledge exchange.

Allianza+ is based on five services. One of them FIT (Flowers Improve Technologies) a partnership network between Bayer and several technology companies, aiming to increase the results of the farms through analysis of production data from the soil to climate conditions.

The program also features two services related to sustainability: Star (Resin-Based Water Treatment Systems) and Phytobac. The former, developed alongside partner companies, helps to enable wastewater for reuse. Phytobac, is a special Bayer system that prevents unwanted waste from reaching the ground or groundwater, based on a biological bed that degrades the active substances by the microbiological action of the soil.

Additionally, with a focus on professionalization and knowledge, the program features a Circle of Experts: a network of theorists and researchers available to address doubts, assist with administrative matters and introduce new discoveries on flower varieties and plant health. There is also an Application Techniques, it is an exclusive consulting service that connects producers with Bayer specialists who provide guidance for adequate applications, compliance with good agricultural practices, as well as support to protect the cultivars from pests and diseases.

The Application Techniques service provided through this program have already helped to improve the results of various farms in the country, such as San Marino. Located in the Bogotá Savanna, the main flower producing region in Colombia, the San Marino farm now features ergonomic spray equipment units designed for operator comfort and to ensure better coverage in applications. Furthermore, its staff qualified and trained in the spray techniques of Allianza+, have allowed San Marino to achieve a 10% increase in efficiency.

With the investment in human development, adoption of technological advances, adequate management of pests and diseases, and sustainable use of natural resources, Colombia is making history in the global flower market. And a beautiful history of growth like this is achieved only with hard work, love, and commitment: All these certainly are shared and communicated, even without being noticed, when someone gives a flower anywhere in the world.

About Colombian flowers

Area. In Colombia, 6,000 hectares are dedicated to the cultivation of flowers, in particular roses, chrysanthemums, and poms. These three account for 80% of the cultivated area.

Red roses. Annually, up to 1.2 million roses per hectare can be produced. Of the total of roses planted, 50% are red. A Colombian rose can be up to 15 cm in diameter (not including stems).

Transportation. The transportation of Colombian flowers occurs especially by plane or in ships. These meet the requisites needed to keep the flowers in cold chambers that maintain at a pleasant temperature to guarantee the durability of the flowers.

Life cycle. A Colombian flower lasts up to 20 days from cutting, if properly preserved.

Workforce. Colombia employs at least 130,000 people in floriculture, and 65% of the workforce is female.

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