Asparagus 'sucking Peru dry:' Varied opinions on the growth of Peruvian asparagus

09/18/2010 08:17:28 AM
Tom Karst

The asparagus industry is attracting attention, and not all of it positive.  Check out this link "Big business clear winner in Peru's asparagus industry"  From that story:


The speed with which asparagus grown for export to the US and UK is sucking Peru's Ica Valley dry is a dramatic example of the competition for dwindling global resources that we are often warned of.

A new report from development charity Progressio highlights how direct the impact of consumption patterns in affluent countries can be on developing ones. In this case a new British and American appetite for the thirsty, out-of-season luxury crop asparagus has led to severe water shortages in one of the poorest and driest regions on earth.

This isn't just a question of whether the UK should be so profligate with its water footprint though. It's a case that goes to the heart of the debate about development.

For the last two decades the Washington consensus has prevailed. The idea that poor countries should switch from production for local consumption to food for export as a means to growth has been a key plank of aid policy for the international financial institutions. Generous loans have been made available to promote these new sectors, combined with structural adjustment programmes that give tax breaks to foreign investors, remove tariffs and open up poor countries' agricultural markets to imports (often US/EU subsidised ones).

Meanwhile, here is the latest USDA FAS annual report on Peruvian asparagus. From the report, a positive tone.

Peru’s agriculture continues undergoing its quiet but sound revolution. Sound economic policies which resulted in remarkably strong economic growth, investments in agriculture and land consolidation were able to reshape Peruvian agriculture into a modern, high technology and market driven industry. This process occurred almost exclusively on the coast and asparagus producers have been the most active players and have benefited the most from it. This consolidation has made modern agriculture profitable, attracting investment from other sectors of the economy, such as mining and fisheries, as well as foreign sources. Investors were drawn to asparagus due to high profitability and a fairly stable foreign demand.

More headlines snatched from the web......



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