Colombia is located at the northwestern tip of South America, next to the Panama Canal, a vital international maritime route. As the only country in South America with coastlines on both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, Colombia is the sole gateway for land transportation on the continent. Its strategic geographic location is critical. Colombia's territory spans 4.2 degrees south latitude to 12.4 degrees north latitude, with part of its land being on the equatorial zone. However, factors such as the Andes Mountains, monsoons and ocean currents create diverse climatic regions across the country.
Colombia has 32 provinces and the capital district of Bogota, which serves as the national political, economic, cultural and educational center. Other major economic hubs include Medellin (tourism, bananas, coffee, flowers, gold and energy), Cali (food, beverages, tobacco), Barranquilla (manufacturing, metalworking, food, clothing, chemicals), and Cartagena (tourism, manufacturing, construction, oil refining, services).
Colombia has an agricultural economy led by high-quality Arabica coffee exports. It ranks third globally in coffee production and exports after Brazil and Vietnam. Colombia is also the top exporter of Arabica coffee beans worldwide. Aside from coffee, key agricultural exports are flowers, bananas, palm oil and avocados. Colombia is the second largest flower exporter after the Netherlands, with almost all its production being exported. Eighteen agricultural goods, including pineapples and papayas, have obtained sanitary approvals from 10 countries, such as Uruguay and Peru.
Colombia possesses a relatively broad market and has immense potential for economic growth. It is known in Latin America for its strong legal system, economic policy stability, high degree of market liberalization, flexible exchange rate regime and limited government intervention in the economy. Successive Colombian governments have been fiscally prudent and responsible borrowers, making it the only Latin American country to never historically default on its foreign debt.
Major economic and trade agreements
The Andean Community aims to fully utilize regional resources, promote balanced and coordinated development among member states, eliminate tariff barriers, establish a common market, and accelerate economic integration. Currently there are four member countries, which are Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia; five associated countries, which are Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile; and three observer countries, which are Spain, Morocco and Turkey.
Union of South American Nations
The Union of South American Nations seeks to enhance the political trust among South American countries, achieve comprehensive integration in politics, economy, society and culture, and strengthen the region's identity. It prioritizes promoting political dialogue and deepening cooperation in social policy, education, energy, infrastructure, finance, the environment and other areas.
It originally had 12 founding members, which were Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. Mexico and Panama are observer states. In 2018, six countries - Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Paraguay - suspended their participation due to the failure to reach consensus on the Secretary General. Since then, several members, including Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil, announced their withdrawal from the bloc. However, in 2023, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia rejoined the Union, and all members met at the Brasilia summit to revitalize the organization.
Overview of the needs of the agrochemical industry
Challenges facing Colombia's agricultural sector
Since the 1990s, Colombia's total imports of agricultural products have continued rising, and are expected to exceed US$4 billion in 2022 (Table 1).
Table 1: Value of U.S. agricultural imports from Colombia from 1990 to 2022 (in billion U.S. dollars)
According to the FAO's DIEM data system, the main crops produced by surveyed households were maize (23%), plantain (17%) and cassava (16%). Seventy percent of households reported difficulties with crop production in the preceding three months. The most affected departments were La Guajira (85%) and Chocó (63%). Nariño (88%) and Arauca (76%) also reported crop production challenges, but the sample representation was inadequate (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Colombia agricultural calendar
Source of data: FAO. 2021. GIEWS – Global Information and Early Warning System: Country
briefs – Colombia. In: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome. Cited 9
September 2022. www.fao.org/giews/countrybrief/country.jsp?code=COL
Over half of surveyed households (51%) reported plant diseases as a production difficulty, primarily in Nariño (80%), Putumayo (62%), La Guajira (65%) and Chocó (25%). Plant damage during vegetation was reported by 41%, mainly in Chocó (72%) and Córdoba (68%). Other issues were irrigation water access (28%), largely in La Guajira (75%), and fertilizer access (22%), primarily in Nariño (79%) and Boyacá (46%). (Table 2)
Table 2: Crop production difficulties (percentage of households)
Source of data: FAO. 2022. Colombia: DIEM-Monitoring assessments results (July–August 2022).
In: FAO Data in Emergencies Hub. Rome. Cited 3 November 2022. https://data-in-emergencies.fao.org
Fifty-one percent were affected by plant diseases, causing agricultural losses. Forty-five percent faced crop marketing difficulties. Most impacted were La Guajira (84%), Putumayo (62%) and Nariño (58%). Lower sales prices affected 63%, especially in La Guajira and Chocó (80% and 50%, respectively). Additionally, 60% reported transport or marketing problems, particularly Nariño (95%), Boyacá (81%) and Córdoba (70%).
In summary, Colombia's agriculture sector faces mounting challenges from plant diseases, climate impacts, lower prices and marketing constraints. Targeted solutions are needed to boost productivity, incomes and food security.
Development and regulation of Colombia's agrochemical industry
Colombia's agrochemical industry began in the latter half of the 20th century, funded by foreign capital and dominated by a handful of multinational manufacturers. By 2018, it provided nearly 5,000 jobs, representing 0.4% of all employment in the national production chain, and generated $68 million in exports, approaching 2% of the chain's export value.
The FAO estimates that Colombia used over 37,700 tons of pesticides in 2018, ranking 18th globally in pesticide consumption. In 2021, the top six companies by revenue were Bayer, Corteva, Syngenta, Adama, Invesa and UPL, with revenues of COP 1.4 trillion, COP 740 billion, COP 556 billion, COP 478 billion, COP 377 billion and COP 355 billion, respectively. Five are renowned multinationals and one a leading domestic firm (Table 3).
Table 3: Leading pesticide producing companies in Colombia in 2021, by revenue (in billion Colombian pesos)
Colombia imports and uses substantial volumes of pesticides and raw materials. In 2019, the top import partners were the US (27%), China (20%), Mexico (7%) and Brazil (6%), while key exports went to the US (31%), China (11%), Panama (6%) and Ecuador (5%). (Table 4&5)
Most finished pesticides come from China, India and Panama, while raw materials are mainly from the US. Imports rose from 49 million kg/l in 2008 to 63.8 million in 2016. The US and China were the largest sources in 2008 (21.4 million kg/l) and 2016 (35.6 million kg/l). In 2016, a quarter (16.2 million kg/l) were high-risk products (Categories 1 and 2), with 11 million kg/l from China, India and Panama. About one-third in 2008 (18.8 million kg/l) and 2016 (20.3 million kg/l) were raw materials, especially from the US. Exports fell from 47.7 million liters in 2008 to 43.7 million in 2016. In 2016, Colombia exported around 30 million liters of pesticides to Latin America and the Caribbean. However, the US (4.4 million kg/l), Israel (3 million kg/l) and Poland (2.9 million kg/l) received the most.
Since 1998, Andean Community regulations and manuals have sought to harmonize pesticide registration and control processes in Colombia through Law 822 (2003). Colombia also signed conventions on hazardous chemicals and waste. In 2014, the OECD recommended that Colombia should adopt the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for labelling chemicals. That year, a re-registration process was launched to upgrade older licensed pesticides to meet updated Andean Community standards, phasing out hundreds of others. In 2018, Colombia adopted the GHS framework. In 2019, new Andean pesticide registration and labelling guidelines were approved to transition members to GHS over five years (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Main pesticide regulations in Colombia
Source of data:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.11214
The growth potential of Colombia's agrochemical market
Over the past decade, Colombia has maintained steady economic growth and is currently the fifth largest economy in Latin America. Colombia has sizable textile, chemical, leather, food, paper, metallurgy and machinery manufacturing industries, making it the country with the best industrial base in the Andes.
According to World Bank data, Colombia's GDP increased from $293.49 billion in 2015 to $343.94 billion in 2022. In 2022, agriculture, industry and manufacturing accounted for 8.3%, 26% and 12% of GDP, respectively. Notably, agriculture continued growing from 6% of GDP in 2015 to 8.3% in 2022. Can a country with a strong industrial foundation and expanding agricultural market become the next growth area for agrochemical companies? In addition to the above data, AgroPages also interviewed several industry experts with years of experience in the Colombian market to present readers with insights into the real situation facing the Colombian agrochemical market.
Avgust is the leader of Russia’s chemical crop protection industry and is a reliable pesticide supplier to more than just Russian consumers. Over the years, we have also successfully developed our export business and have strong representation in dozens of countries, allowing the company to significantly consolidate its position in the fast-growing global crop protection market.
Miguel Aguirre Cristina Garzón
General Manager Avgust Crop Marketing Manager Avgust Crop
protection Colombia protection Colombia
What is the most popular herbicide product in the Colombian pesticide market? Which crop do you think will have the most market potential in Colombia in the future?
The pesticide market is dominated by two star products, Glyphosate and Paraquat. These two pesticides have achieved the highest sales and volume in the industry in the country.
Glyphosate, known for its effectiveness in weed control, has been widely used in different crops, including rice. Its popularity is due to its ability to efficiently and quickly eradicate weeds, achieving better crop performance.
On the other hand, Paraquat has also gained ground in the pesticide market. This product stands out for its contact action, which means it is effective when directly in contact with unwanted plants. Although its use is more selective and requires careful application, Paraquat has proven to be highly effective in controlling resistant weeds.
Despite the presence of other crops in the market, rice cultivation remains the most important in terms of demand and domestic consumption. This is because rice is a staple food in many regions, and its consumption is fundamental to the diet of Colombian families. Additionally, its versatility in cooking and its ability to adapt to different dishes make it a highly consumed product in our country.
Chlorpyrifos and Fipronil have been banned. What products can quickly replace their vacated market share?
We consider Diamides, such as Chlorantraniliprole, to be a modern and safe pest control alternative, capable of controlling a wide range of phytophagous pests. Furthermore, their favorable toxicological profile makes them attractive options for farmers, with low risk to mammals and, at the same time, selective for beneficial arthropods. This will ensure their lasting presence in the market.
Joining international groups and organizations will undoubtedly have an impact on the country's internal industry. Colombia is about to rejoin the Union of South American Nations. What impact do you think this will have on Colombia's pesticide market?
This announcement generated a lot of expectation. However, we have not seen an immediate or short-term impact. While it is difficult to predict, with certainty, the exact impact this return will have on Colombia's pesticide market, it is likely that there will be greater demand for safer and more sustainable products, representing an opportunity for the country’s pesticide industry to adapt and offer innovative solutions that comply with new regulations and meet the needs of farmers.
What crop fields of your end customers are being mainly targeted by your company, and what are the related trends in pesticide use?
Our portfolio reaches our end consumer through several distribution channels. Some 5% of our sales go directly to sugarcane and banana producers. In sugarcane, the largest market is for herbicides, and in bananas it is fungicides. The major challenge in the banana market is finding new alternative molecules for the markets where banana producers sell their fruits.
Are there any special challenges or opportunities in Colombia's agricultural market, for example, the rapid development of agriculture in some areas?
One of the great opportunities in Colombia’s agricultural market lies in export crops, which have become an attractive option for Colombian farmers. These crops, such as tropical fruits, high-quality coffee and flowers, are in high demand in international markets. The main challenges include increasing farmers' productivity and improving agricultural technologies. This involves implementing efficient agricultural practices, such as the proper use of fertilizers, efficient water management, and the adoption of modern cultivation techniques. Additionally, the adoption of advanced agricultural technologies, such as automated irrigation systems and crop monitoring, can help optimize processes and increase production.
HELM AG is a Hamburg-based family-owned company that is steeped in tradition with a history spanning over 120 years. It is a multifunctional distribution company specializing in chemicals (feedstocks and derivatives), crop protection, active pharmaceutical ingredients, pharmaceuticals and fertilizers. When marketing our products, we provide a wide range of services for our business partners. Today, HELM is one of the world's major independent chemical marketing enterprises, with more than 100 subsidiaries, sales offices and participations in over 30 countries. Our specific local knowledge guarantees access to major markets worldwide.
Regulatory Affairs Manager at
Helm ANDINA S.A.S
What types of pesticide trade are you mainly engaged in? What are the market demand and prices for these varieties?
HELM is a family company that is internationally diversified into four business units, which are chemicals, pharma, energy materials and crop solutions. Currently, our focus in Colombia is to provide solutions to our stakeholders through our herbicide, fungicide and insecticide portfolios.
The Colombian market is a mature market that usually changes due to the currency exchange instead of new cultivated areas, despite the country having enough areas to extend its agricultural borders.
If we considering pesticide imports in Colombia in 2022 according to CIF figures for chemical pesticides, the market was worth a little more than $900 million. However, it is important to note that some of these imports are then exported from Colombia to Andean countries, Central America, the Caribbean and even Brazil.
Looking at these figures, the main driver for our market in 2022 was the high sourcing prices and consequently high prices at local level. In the end, pesticide prices did not have a high-level rise compared with fertilizer prices, and growers faced a major challenge in how to evaluate and improve their investment in agriinputs, to maintain the rentability of their crops. The average prices of fertilizers between July 2021 and June 2022 increased by 127.66% while pesticides increased by 40% in the same period.
How do you optimize your inventory management in your supply chain to achieve optimal inventory levels and capital utilization?
The S&Op + S&Ep are strategic axes for the optimization of resources and reduction of working capital. Furthermore, working together with the commercial channel and field is mandatory to keep optimal inventory levels and improve capital utilization.
How do you coordinate different links in the supply chain to achieve the best supply chain performance?
The data collected for local demand, as well as forecasts, local and external trends and how the company has the capacity to analyze this information are the main inputs, as well as the coordination between different parts of the company that directly and indirectly affect S&OP, such as procurement, manufacturing, regulatory, commercial channel, transportation, finance among others are key actors for improving supply chain performance. This exercise must be updated constantly to maintain trust in the process, accompanied by clear and close communication to avoid negative repercussions throughout the entire value chain.
Are there any special regulations and standards in Colombia, such as import licenses or quotas? How do you ensure that imported products comply with local regulations and standards?
Considering that we are dealing with products that are hazardous, all international, regional and local regulations for plant protection products applies for importation and local commercialization. However, there are no existing standards or quota licenses that restrict importations. To ensure company compliance with local regulations, we work closely with the scientific, regulatory, logistic and stewardship teams of the company, as well as local associations and authorities.
How does your company choose new products? How did you determine product demand?
Of course, we always focus on our clients and stakeholders and how we can contribute to increase the value we offer. For the third generation of the company, it is mandatory to develop a sustainable business that also has a positive impact socially and from the environmental perspective. Keeping in mind that the crop protection industry is facing a new requirement in which sustainability is part of the FAO vision, is the management and conservation of the natural resources base and the orientation of technological and institutional change to ensure that human needs for present and future generations are always met, while the selection of new products must ensure to be aligned with this vision.
Therefore, a portfolio must contain less hazardous innovation pesticides, through partnerships with entities such as ISK, launching bio alternatives with a combined impact such as with UNIUM, Bi-PA and Protergium, and provide services associated to crop production and business profitability, such as SKYFLD, Plantix and CropX. Nowadays, some of these products and services are not available in all countries where the company has businesses, but nevertheless, they allow us to understand how it is promoting its portfolio.
Interoc is a company with more than 25 years of experience in Latin America, which is focused on the research and development of products for agriculture, both in crop protection and seeds. Currently, Interoc has operations in more than 10 countries, which are Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, giving us a unique understanding of the reality of farmers.
Agronomist Engineer- Chief Technician
(R&D-crop protection) at Interoc Custer
What is currently the most popular product in the pesticide market in Colombia?
I think without a doubt that it is mancozeb. Despite the restrictions on some active ingredients in the ethylene-dithiocarbamate group, mancozeb is imported in quantities of thousands of tons. A major issue for companies is formulating products in the sector. Like other commodities, such as glyphosate and other herbicides, the market is based on price and purchase volume. The agrochemical industry is currently searching for other products in mancozeb´s market segment. Products with technical profiles, such as multisite substances with protectant activity, pose minor risk to the environment and health public.
Which crop will have the most market potential in Colombia in the future?
Honestly, the crops of the future are a bit uncertain, due to the following reasons:
The political situation amid possible new reforms. Among these, there are possible agrarian reforms, which will affect land tenure and use.
Global trends in fresh fruit consumption markets. Currently, crops such as avocado have been grown in the area, but in the last year, the current panorama of supply and demand and production costs have been reviewed. Colombia has exported flowers, coffee and bananas over the last 50 years. Other products for fresh consumption, such as passion fruit and cape gooseberry, have been grown for emerging markets that have had many difficulties.
Climate change is a determining factor in terms of supply. Colombia is a country with enormous production advantages, but climatic effects negatively impact the yields and adaptability of plant varieties, especially more productive crops.
Technological adoption is not going fast enough to implement optimal crop management plans, due to extension problems, negative public policies and low public investment in the agricultural sector. However, I believe that some extensive crops, such as soybeans and corn, have growth opportunities due to the needs of the local industry. I also see growth in some citrus fruits, such as Limon Tahiti. Oil palm cultivation has been maintained, and its behavior is due to international market dynamics. It all depends on public policies for the sector and the needs of emerging markets.
Chlorpyrifos and fipronil have been banned. What impact do you think the ban of these two products will have on the pesticide company in Colombia?
The ban on these active ingredients did not take the agrochemical industry into account. Therefore, authorities in Colombia must make joint decisions to consider whether a substance should be prohibited. The decision must be technical.
The companies already have products positioned in the fipronil and chlorpyrifos market segments.
From a strictly technical point of view, fipronil can only be replaced with an active ingredient from the same group, such as phenylpyrazoles. In Colombia, there is already a registered product, but it could have the same restrictions as fipronil since it is one of its metabolites.
In the case of chlorpyrifos, there is a greater supply of organophosphate insecticides, but authorities in Colombia are updating records of chemical pesticides for agricultural use and recategorizing several products, which could be canceled.
For these reasons, companies aim to evaluate products that can replace the benefits attributed to fipronil and chlorpyrifos, such as control residuality, shock effect and performance. In this sense, the potential for neurotoxic insecticides is high in our market, and companies are working to increase that value offer.
After Brazil and Argentina announced their return to the Union of South American Nations, the President of Colombia also announced, on Twitter, that Colombia will return to the Union of South American Nations. What impact do you think this will have on Colombia's pesticide market?
In 2018, Colombia left the Union of South American Nations (USAN) because there were no concrete results. This news is positive, especially in terms of the regulatory framework. Brazil has different regulatory requirements than Colombia, but both countries are strategic for the agrochemical industry in Latin America.
Depending on the agenda that defined for USAN, we could have a common regulatory framework and registration approvals among member countries.
Colombia and Brazil share a common area from the point of view of environmental supply and crops, with from this we would gain value, because we can establish agreements for technological supply and agricultural research, particularly in Brazil, with which we share a common agricultural area in the southeast of our country.
On the other hand, the commercial exchange of raw materials and finished products with Brazil or Argentina can improve our productive outlook in the agricultural sector.
In order to ensure the export of agricultural products, how do Colombian pesticide companies affect the trend of agricultural end-users using pesticides?
The most important crops not only for us but also for several other companies are rice, potato, flowers, bananas, corn, vegetables and fruits.
In general, export markets are oriented to use biorational products for applications close to the harvest and in post-harvest periods, as well as substances with residue and integrated management with conventional pesticides.
However, production systems have a strong dependence on conventional agrochemicals, due to their observed superiority to biorational products. Mixed management is generally recommended.
Relevant companies are working together to ensure the quality control of applications in the field, to apply the necessary quantities of products.
Currently, what are the future growth points for Colombian pesticide companies? What are problems facing the actual promotion process?
There are small and medium-sized emerging markets for fruits (citrus), medical cannabis, cocoa and aromatic herbs, but with many limitations and market and government regulations.
New regulations in Colombia, such as the requirement for studies to determine pre-harvest intervals (PHI), benefit final consumers and obliges companies in the agrochemical industry to work on biorational portfolio lines, product custody, field resistance management, and the application of fertilizers and pesticides on a specific site.
The Colombian Corporation for Agricultural Research (AGROSAVIA)is a decentralized indirect public entity of a scientific and technical nature, as it has mixed participation and is a non-profit entity governed by private law regulations, whose purpose is to work on a new generation of scientific knowledge and agricultural technological development through scientific research and technological adaptation, transfer and consultancy, to improve the competitiveness of production, equalize the distribution of technological benefits, ensure sustainability in the use of natural resources, strengthen Colombia's scientific and technological capacity, and help raise the quality of life of the country’s population.
Martha Isabel Gomez Kelly Piraquiv
Ph.D Researcher at Agrosavia Master in microbiology in
Which types of biostimulant products are more popular in the Colombian agricultural market?
Some countries, such as US, recognize biostimulants products into a separate category. In Colombia, these kinds of products are included in the biofertilizers category. Actually, there are 44 companies that produce biological inoculants with 86 registered products in total. According to biological activity, these can be classified as phosphate solubilizers, nitrogen-fixing products, soil conditioners and plant growth promoters. The active ingredient of these biofertilizers includes bacteria (Azotobacter sp, Bacillus sp, Pseudomonas sp), fungi of different species and mycorrhizae.
Which crops are Colombian biological agents mainly applied to?
In Colombia, there are around 375 registered bioinputs. The main crops on which this type of products is applied include rice (85 registered products), tomato (72 registered products), roses (62 registered products), avocado (42 registered products), coffee, banana and sugarcane. For example, in avocado crops, there has been a great boost in the use of bioinputs, due to all the requirements for the exportation of this product.
At present, extreme climate conditions occur frequently around the world. Does an extreme climate condition affect biological preparation products? Do you have corresponding solutions for extreme climates?
The scientific research conducted to obtain this type of products has focused on areas related to environmental issues, such as water stress and drought. The aim is to investigate microorganisms that are found naturally in those environments and are capable of enduring such extreme and hostile environments.
In order to improve crop yield and growth in plants living in extreme conditions, microorganisms, such as Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria (PGPB), have been used. Different genres of PGPB, such as Bacillus, Flavobacterium, Azospirillum and Bradyrhizobium, can use different mechanisms to induce tolerance to extreme conditions, such as high salinity, drought and toxic heavy metals in the soil.
Has the Colombian government adopted any policies or provided subsidies to encourage farmers to use biological products?
Currently, there are no incentives for Colombian farmers that are using bioinputs on their crops. However, special inner policies, such as the National Council for Economical and Social Policy (CONPES), have proposed the adoption and extended use of bioinputs on agricultural crops. There are guidelines to promote the use, research and production of bioinputs in Colombia. In addition, CONPES wants to promote the construction and operation of bioinput factories to improve internal offerings in the country. At this time, there are some 500 registered products as a result of research in the biodiversity of our country. Nevertheless, it is necessary to consider some kind of incentive, such as tax reductions, to encourage medium and small producers to use bioinputs on their crops.
What impact can the use of biological agents have on Colombian agricultural exports? Of Colombia's current agricultural inputs, what products are likely to be replaced by biological products?
There are many current opportunities, particularly with the boom in the cultivation and exportation of exotic fruits, such as gulupa, cape gooseberry, granadilla, pitahaya, passion fruit, tree tomato, curuba, lulo and custard apple. Challenges are mainly focused on limiting the maximum level of residues on these products due to exportation activities. This can be done with the intensive use of bioinputs. There is an interest in Colombia to imitate the guidelines of countries such as the US, Japan and some European countries that have residue limits in at least 75% of substances. Some exportation products in Colombia, such as flowers and avocado, already have residue limits, due to the requirements of the international market.
Situations in a global context, such as the Ukraine-Russia conflict, have encouraged Colombia to consider and look carefully at all possibilities in terms of biofertilizers products. It is
necessary to adopt new technologies to reduce the dependence of nitrogen and phosphorus based fertilizers.
″Organo-mineral mixtures″ (microorganisms in combination with minerals) are promising alternatives to taking advantage of the higher availability of elements, such as nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium.
Profesionales del Agro
"Profesionales del Agro" is a specialist news outlet dedicated to analyzing agricultural sector news.
Journalist at Profesionales del Agro
Chlorpyrifos and fipronil have been banned. Does this mean that the Colombian government has tightened pesticide supervision measures?
My initial reaction as a journalist was to seek interviews with directors of governmental institutions responsible for agrochemical regulation, which, in the case of Colombia, falls under the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA). I wanted to inquire about the apparent reinforcement of regulations concerning active ingredients. However, after rereading the question in the early hours of the morning and pondering the situation over a cup of Colombian coffee, I realized that such an effort was unnecessary.
The reason is simple: the resolutions issued by the ICA are a result of the judgment issued by the Colombian Constitutional Court in October 2022, which ruled that the ICA must take administrative measures to suspend the commercialization of agrochemical products containing the active ingredient, clorpyrifos, within a maximum period of six months. Furthermore, it must take necessary actions to definitively eliminate its use within Colombian territory.
In turn, the ICA released a concise statement on January 27, 2023, more than a month after the notification of the court’s decision, announcing its intention to comply with the judgment ordering the suspension of the commercialization and eliminating the use of clorpyrifos. However, the reality is that as recently as June 6th or five months later, the ICA issued the resolution to implement the measures ordered by the Constitutional Court.
Considering that the Constitutional Court had set a tight deadline of six months to cease national commercialization, and that the ICA, in its administrative and regulatory capacity, used that time solely to issue the resolution, it is evident that the withdrawal of the active ingredient is not a proactive measure by the governmental institution.
But if governmental entities are not responsible, then who is behind the prohibition of the active ingredients?
The answer lies within the judgment of the Constitutional Court T-343 dated October 5, 2022, which stated, "It granted protection of the fundamental right to health of the plaintiff, his daughter, and the boys and girls of Colombian territory, finding that the molecule, clorpyrifos, used in the production of agrochemical pesticides, poses a risk to health and human life.
The plaintiff, Luis Domingo Gómez Maldonado, a university professor of environmental law in Bogotá, filed a lawsuit against fipronil and neonicotinoids. His research demonstrated how clorpyrifos causes severe neurological damage in children up to the age of 2 years, leading him to undertake legal action, considering that there are around 6million minors under 12 years old in the country.
The professor is not working alone, he is part of a civil society that aims to protect citizens exposed to indiscriminate molecules. This society possesses the resources, knowledge and time to meet relevant demands. Therefore, when interviewing the professor, he said that he is now focusing on 15 other molecules. Fipronil is already considered out of the market due to its high impact on bees, and he is directing his legal efforts towards the short-term prohibition of mancozeb.
This jurisprudence presents a new landscape for molecule-producing companies, chemical synthesis processes, formulations and chemical distribution, not only in Colombia but also in the Latin American market, amid the effectiveness of communication between civil society and interest groups, as well as technologies that enable the faster exchange of opinions, research, and demand frameworks.
As a result, agrochemical companies and their leaders, as well as innovation and marketing managers, have two options. The first is to remain engaged in boardroom debates about legal provisions in each country and each active ingredient, to maximize their market share with products that are on their way out, positioned in the GrowthShare Matrix's "dogs" quadrant.
The second option is to diversify their product lines with biologics and agrochemicals of low toxicity and less impact on pollinator populations, among others.
Which path has your company chosen, and at what stage of the process do you find yourself as a manager?"
This article was initially published in AgroPages' '2023 Latin America Focus' magazine.
If you are interested in Colombian market and want more information, please contact the author at email@example.com