Colombia is the largest producer of palm and palm kernel oils in America, and the fourth largest in the world. Palm growing is one of the most promising agricultural activities and is a hub to achieve development through agriculture.
Elaeis guineensis was introduced in Colombia in 1932, but its commercial cultivation only extended from the second half of the 20th century thanks to the government measures aimed at developing the countryside and providing the country with local palm oil.
Under the government’s plan to promote oilseeds, oil palm was planted in the Caribbean Plains, in the Middle Magdalena Valley, in the low foothills of the plain lands, and in the Colombian southwest. The individual efforts of the producers and their organization, the National Federation of Oil Palm Growers, Fedepalma, played a significant role in the development and consolidation of this agribusiness. As a result, plantations tripled during the eighties, and palm oil consolidated as the primary commodity in the country’s oilseed, oils, and fats productive chain. During the nineties, efforts were aimed at developing the competitiveness of the big palm companies and at managing industry institutions that helped palm growers prepare for the 21st century.
Palm and palm kernel oils represent 94.1% of the national production of oils and fats in the local market and about 66% of the consumption of these products. Likewise, exports have significantly increased since 1990, now representing a significant share of the Colombian agribusiness exports. Although the commissioning of biodiesel plants increased the percentage of internal consumption, external sales will increase as a result of the larger production expected in the next years due to the growing plantations.