Producer Spotlight: Los Martillos Farm

Agriculture entrepreneurs on the northern coast of Colombia have realized great success growing and exporting bananas and plantains through the years. One of them is Los Martillos Farm.
by on Monday, August 26, 2019

A Visit to a Plantain Farm in Colombia

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The country known best for its coffee and flowers may have a ripe future in the production of bananas and plantains for export. Agriculture entrepreneurs on the northern coast of Colombia have realized great success growing and exporting bananas and plantains through the years. One of them is Los Martillos Farm.

The prolonged violence over the last half-century in Colombia resulted in a limited infrastructure for fresh produce distribution. It was often too costly, too risky, or too slow for agriculture producers to send their fresh produce harvests from the interior of the country to the ports on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. This is now starting to change in a positive direction.

In the northern part of Colombia in areas such as Uraba, Cartagena and Santa Marta, which are close to the coastal ports and have favorable growing conditions, fresh produce cultivation and exportation has been a feasible venture for some years.

One young entrepreneur, Juan Esteban Barrenche, has particularly activated production in the northern region.

Juan has converted his family’s cattle plantation into a thriving plantain operation. Los Martillos is growing commercial conventional plantain on 200 hectares of property. There is a strong domestic demand for plantains from Colombian supermarkets, as well as international demand from commercializers who buy plantains at the farm and then export the product.

In 2017 Juan Esteban began exporting his own products to clients directly in England and France with great success. He is looking to expand his operation to 2,000 hectares in the coming years.

On my visit to the Los Martillos farm, I was impressed with the quality of labor, organization of operations, and the consistency of quality and output. The farm treated their workers like family, and everyone involved with the operation seemed to share a good energy and enthusiasm.

The Los Martillos property borders the Caribbean ocean shoreline and makes for one of the most beautiful locations for a plantain farm. Juan travels between his office in Medellin and Uraba, where the farm is located; however, he will tell you that his heart is in the countryside and on the farm. He enjoys spending as much time as possible on the farm with his family.

As food service providers—as well as consumers in the United States and Europe—learn more about the culinary versatility and health benefits of plantains, demand for this product has been quietly growing.

Plantains were once a culturally exclusive product enjoyed by Latin Americans and others who live in the tropics around the world. Today, I believe that the plantain has a huge future with non-Latin consumers who are beginning to learn about this wonderful fruit.


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2 comments

  1. Dear Producers Market,
    Thank you for your interesting article on Los Martillos Farm. We have a small 40 hectare coffee finca in the Armenia Quindio area of Colombia with a lot of plantain trees. Today we sold approximately one ton for 700000 COP which equates to about $180 US at 3850 COP to the USD. I guess we could repeat this 12 to 15 times per year, but this is obviously not profitable when you factor in your costs.. However, it will very depressing to just let them die on the ground. Can you suggest a consultant we could speak with regarding this matter? Best regards, Tim Bankerd

  2. HI TIM .. HAVE YOU SPOKEN WITH SOMEONE IN THE AGRICULTURAL DEPARTMENT OF COLOMBIA OR EVEN LOCALLY WITHIN QUINDIO’S GOVERNMENT .? WITH PETRO’S NEW GOVERNMENT THERE IS A RENEWED, STRONG INTEREST IN HELPING FARMERS BECOME MORE PRODUCTIVE ETC… IF YOU ARE FROM THE UNITED STATES ..THERE MIGHT HELP THRU USAID (UNITED STATES AGENCY OF INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT) OR OTHER AGENCIES….ALSO I DON’T HAVE IT AT HAND RIGHT NOW ..BUT I THINK I HAVE CONTACT INFO FOR AN AGRONOMIST BASED THERE IN ARMENIA, QUINDIO THAT MIGHT BE ABLE TO HELP YOU.. EMAIL ME … GOOD LUCK AND MUCH PROSPERITY!

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