Food Agricultural Issues In Colombia
Colombia is located in the northwest corner of South America, it is home to nearly 49 million citizens of 85 different ethnic groups. Colombia is one of the most densely populated countries in South America second only to Brazil. The land area of Colombia is almost 440,000 square miles. The government and economy set up can be compared to the United States as they are quite similar in using the same types of systems. For example, their government is a democracy and they vote every four years for citizen chosen officials to represent their country like the US. Colombia also has a free market economy, they have commercial and investment ties to many countries the United States being Colombia’s largest trading partner.
This country produces a wide variety of crops that are easily grown due to their different vertical climate zones, crops can be tropical or temperate because of the changing temperatures. The most prominent crop in their area is coffee, it composes about half of all legal exports. Another extremely prominent crop is coca leaves, the main product in cocaine. This product although illegal is an extremely common crop as noted by the fact that Colombia produces 90% of the world’s cocaine. The countries end goal is to eliminate all fields of coca. Although these two products are the two leading crops in relation to price other highly sought after exported crops include bananas, plantains, and sugarcane. Other crops not as distinguished in exportation but still quite often grown include cocoa, grapes, citrus fruits, and peanuts. Food products exported the most to the US include coffee, bananas, and citrus fruits. Although they are a leading exporter, they also import several food products including pork, corn, barley, wheat, and soybeans. In 2017, exported goods were valued at approximately $37 billion USD while imports were valued at approximately $46 billion. This left a negative trade balance of about $8 billion dollars. Exported products and services were estimated to be 14.55% of yearly GDP while the import of products and services was estimated to be 19.71% of yearly GDP.
Colombia is currently facing several different agricultural issues including deforestation, changing climates, and high production of coca. Deforestation due to logging, mining, and human settlement is the largest issue in Colombia. Each year about 2.2 million acres of forest is being cleared which creates soil erosion and siltation of waterways which threatens the water supply for the whole country. Another issue is climate change which is harming the growth of their largest and most valued export, coffee. These increased temperatures and unpredictable rains are forcing farmers to move uphill, often leading farmers to to stop growing coffee altogether and instead choose a less effortful crop. The last issue is one the country has been dealing with for quite some time, the production of illegal coca plants. Each year somewhere between 123,000 and 741,000 acres of land are cleared for coca planting in which they dump hazardous chemicals onto the land which can end up in streams or rivers. The government is trying to rid of this growth and believe they have cleared nearly half of the product however, there is controversy on the effectiveness of this plan due to its use of chemicals and the belief that it is encouraging deforestation due to coca farmers moving the crop.
In this country, they have many different specialty foods. Some of the most common items are arepas, bandeja paisa, and chicharrons. Arepas are the most well-known food amongst the Paisas people who are indigenous to Colombia this food can be described as corn bread like however it comes in many different shapes and sizes. Most tourists explain it tastes like cardboard but paired with a meal it is better. The most traditional dish in Colombia is the bandeja paisa this meal consists of white rice, red beans, shredded meat, chicharron, chorizo, morcilla, fried egg, avocado, arepa and plantain. The thought behind this dish is that it displays peasant food, or food that is meant to fill the stomach and give energy. The last common food item is the chicharron, this item is incorporated into bandeja paisa but is also ate as a main dish in many other meals. Chicharron can be identified as one of the unhealthiest foods served in Colombia because it is deep-fried pork rind. Deep frying food is often said to be a staple in their cooking styles.
Colombia has faced many struggles but is a continually developing country that has many different agricultural industries that have a lot to offer to not only the United States but also many surrounding countries they trade with. Colombia is not only a very intricate part of the trading system but also a beautiful country with mountains, breathtaking views, and delicious foods.