Blog > CRECE works hand in hand with the palm sector

CRECE works hand in hand with the palm sector

The Center for Regional Coffee and Business Studies -CRECE- is carrying out a project for FEDEPALMA called “Evaluation of the impact of research and transfer of Bud Rot”. The objective of the project is to identify the most relevant results of the research and transfer on Heart Rot (PC), financed by the Palm Development Fund and executed by CENIPALMA, and to evaluate its impact on the Colombian palm sector. The study has as reference the period during which the Palmero Development Fund has contributed resources to this research, that is, from 1994 to date.


Oil palm cultivation is of enormous importance for Colombian agriculture as it generates 6% of the country’s agricultural GDP. According to the National Agricultural Census of the more than 8 million hectares planted in the country, oil palm occupies 512 thousand hectares, it is the second most important agro-industrial crop in production area, after coffee (Dane, 2016), which which makes Colombia the leading producer of palm oil in Latin America and the fourth largest producer in the world. Oil palm stands out for its agro-industrial chain as it is the basis for the productive development of the oil and food industries and the production of biofuels. In addition, the palm has a great capacity to generate decent jobs, 60% of the employment generated by palm cultivation is formal with salaries up to 20% above the salary level of other agricultural sectors and approximately 140 thousand people work directly or indirectly in this crop. (FEDEPALMA, 2017).


Palm cultivation in the country is located in 4 palm zones which are evidenced in the following map, where the departments with the greatest presence of the crop are highlighted.

The most limiting disease of oil palm cultivation in Colombia is Bud Rot, a disease that has caused serious losses to palm cultivation and has wiped out entire plantations in the Southwest and Central zones. In the last 15 years, 35 thousand hectares have been lost in Tumaco, Nariño and 37,200 hectares in Puerto Wilches, Santander due to the disease. Currently there is even a major outbreak of the disease in the North (La FM, 2017).


Cenipalma’s research work on PC has had the difficulty of not having international research on the disease, as it is not as relevant in Malaysia and Indonesia, the main world producers. For this reason, Cenipalma has had to start by understanding and characterizing the disease until its causal agent can be identified: Phytophtora palmivora. This pathogen mainly attacks the tissues of the developing arrows, impairs the emission and maturation of new arrows and stops the growth of the palm. The management of this disease is based on taking preventive measures, such as not cultivating in soils with high relative humidity or good drainage management, and applying corrective measures in the presence of the disease, such as improving agronomic management, tissue surgeries sick, the application of products in young palms. Despite there being management alternatives, what is recommended when a palm does not recover is to eradicate it.


Within the framework of this project, CRECE has proposed to analyze the entire value chain, starting with research and scientific discoveries, continuing with the validation and transfer of technology, and ending with quantifying the rate of adoption, perception and impact at the of the palm growers. To achieve this, the project proposes a set of interviews, surveys and focus groups to understand and evaluate, through econometric techniques, the impact that the research and transfer of bud rot has had on the Colombian palm sector. This project is expected to be a fundamental input to support the construction of Fedepalma’s new strategic vision that would begin in 2020.



Guillermo Llinás R., Consultor Associate in Agricultural Economics CRECE
Mario Villamil P., Public Policy Consultant CRECE
Sara Asmar S., Research Assistant CRECE

Figure 1: Oil palm in Colombia. (Source: Fedepalma