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Hunger and inflation: the consequences of the climate crisis in agriculture

Hunger and inflation: the consequences of the climate crisis in agriculture

Peruvian agriculture is not going through its best moment. In the last year, the ravages of droughts and rains with intensities not seen in several decades have been suffered, which aggravated the situation of the sector due to the crisis of fertilizers before the ineptitude of the Government to buy them.

Now with Cyclone Yaku more than 70,0000 hectares of crops in the country were damaged. Thus, in the current agricultural campaign, as of the first quarter of 2023, the planted area contracted 4%, according to the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation (Midagri).

Quinoa, the most affected food

The drought hit mainly the south of the country, and the planted area fell by up to 28.8% during the first seven months of this agricultural season.

Quinoa was the product most affected by this weather phenomenon, says Beatriz Salazar, coordinator of the Cepes Climate Change and Sustainable Agriculture Program. In fact, at the end of the first quarter, planting of this crop fell by more than 14% compared to the historical average.

“The rainfall deficit has not allowed 12,000 hectares of quinoa to be planted at the time when it should have been planted last year,” he told La República.

The planting of this cereal occurs between November and December and involves more than 68,000 small producers, recalls Nicolás Villanueva, former president of the Association of Agricultural Producers of San Francisco de Gasajpampa (Áncash).

The rains in Peru drastically affected the cultivation of this seed in the south of the country.  Photo: Senasa

The rains in Peru drastically affected the cultivation of this seed in the south of the country. Photo: Senasa

And, given the absence of rain for much of last year, the families in the countryside chose to reduce their plantings —just for self-consumption or to save the seeds, adds Villanueva— or simply not to do so.

“The rains started after January 20, and until the land is prepared (which takes a long time), some have been sowing until February 15 or 20,” he notes, but warns that because they were sown out of time, the yield of these plots will be less than those planted before December.

As a result of the climate emergency, quinoa production has fallen between 25% and 30%, says Jonathan Contreras, general manager of Aspagro Company SAC. A yield of 2.5 tons on average was expected, but less than 500 kg per hectare have been harvested in the fields affected by the lack of rain.

Of course, he emphasizes that the fall in production does not affect the quality of the product.

The fall of the potato

In the first quarter of this year, 261,229 hectares of potatoes were planted, which, when compared to the 2021/2022 campaign, reflects an 8.7% drop in areas, according to Midagri, making it the second most important food in agricultural production that is affected by the climate crisis.

The high input costs such as fertilizers observed last year also played a decisive role in this result.

If the result accumulated to the first quarter is taken into account, the reduction in the production of dad is 16.95%, due to the 18.5% drop in the harvested areas in the country.

In detail, in January, production reached 270,000 tons, which meant a contraction of 10.6% compared to the result of the same month of the previous year. While in February 302,000 tons were harvested, which is 17.93% below the 368,000 tons of February 2022. While in March 569,000 tons were achieved; that is, 19.68% less than in the third month of last year.

As a consequence of this decrease, in March the farm prices of this food climbed to S/1.70 per kg, 32.7% more than a year ago.

Midagri announced that the potato crop has been one of the most affected.  Photo: diffusion

Midagri announced that the potato crop has been one of the most affected. Photo: diffusion

At the departmental level, fewer potatoes were planted in Puno (−7.4%), Cusco (-19.2%), Huánuco (−3.4%), Junín (−12.2%), Apurímac (−16, 9%), Pasco (−15.5%), Huancavelica (−17.8%), La Libertad (−0.6%) and Cajamarca (−11.0%), mainly.

On the other hand, regions such as Lima (22.3%), Ancash (15.5%) and Ayacucho (12.9%) showed an increase.

Poverty would continue to rise

The most visible effect generated by the decrease in planting and harvesting of the main foods is the marked increase in the final prices of these products for the household economy, says Salazar.

On this point, Grade researcher Eduardo Zegarra points out that the decrease in the supply of products such as potatoes and rice should already be experiencing from this month until July, since they are the months with the highest production input on land.

In addition, it foresees that this rise would drive food inflation this year to a significant level, which complicates the panorama as it has not yet been regularized. “Last year it was almost 14% or 15%, a very strong figure. This year we could be at 6% and 7% food inflation, even more”, he said.

On the other hand, he warns that the impact is not only reflected in the markets of the cities, but in the farmers themselves because it increases their food problems.

How does it affect farming families? Zegarra explains that farmers usually use a fraction of their production for their own food; In addition, with the resources obtained from the sale of their products, they buy other foods to complete their diet. Therefore, less production means less sales and, therefore, less income to pay for its maintenance.

Another impact of the poor performance of some crops is the increase in poverty in the agricultural population, noting that in 2022 general poverty rose to 27.5%, “but agrarian poverty also increased by more than 2 percentage points”, and “farmers are more affected than the group in terms of poverty,” he said.

Improve planning for El Niño

This agricultural season has already been hit by the climate crisis and now the initiatives of the State must be aimed at mitigating the effects of the imminent phenomenon of El Niño Costero and the arrival of The Global Childmentions Beatriz Salazar.

He considers that greater planning, technical advice and improvement of catastrophic agricultural insurance schemes are necessary.

Regarding infrastructure, in the north, irrigation systems that may have been damaged by rainfall and flooding must be repaired; while in the south it is required in the long term that there are systems that allow the storage of rainwater for when drought scenarios occur again.

Meanwhile, Zegarra suggests generating a scenario where producers can be recommended what type of crops are less vulnerable to the climatic phenomenon so that they take precautions.

  Hundreds of hectares of crops were affected by the overflows.  Photo: William Tocto

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Hundreds of hectares of crops were affected by the overflows. Photo: William Tocto

Less rice is planted

Rice, the main food of the six crops prioritized by Midagri, accumulated 317,275 planted hectares until March, which meant a 3.7% year-on-year drop in its planted area.

The departments that still continue with negative figures are Piura (−15.5%), La Libertad (−6.5%), Lambayeque (–15.5%) and Loreto (−2.2%). In contrast, there was an increase in Arequipa (0.5%), Amazonas (5.2%), San Martín (0.3%), Ucayali (23.2%) and Tumbes (14.0%).

Regarding farm prices, the average was S/1.36 per kg in March, which is equivalent to a year-on-year increase of 13%. The regions with the highest prices were Libertad, Áncash and Cajamarca with S/1.58; S/1.60 and S/1.38 per kg, each one, respectively.

While in the jungle the lowest values ​​were located, as is the case of San Martín (S/1.23), Loreto (S/0.72) and Ucayali (S/1.10).

Regarding prices in the Lima Wholesale Market, the average was S/2.69 in March.

Risks for rice cultivation in the north

The National Meteorology and Hydrology Service of Peru (Senamhi) foresees a favorable environment for the development and cultivation of potatoes in the central and southern coastal strip during the May-July 2023 quarter.

Likewise, it warns that in the northern sierra the rains above normal and the night temperatures would remain propitious for the current crop and the start of the small campaign on the eastern slope of the central sierra.

Regarding rice, there would be a level of agroclimatic risk between medium and high in the departments of Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque and La Libertad, due to the presence of the El Niño Costero phenomenon, which would cause rainfall and temperatures above their values. normal.

In the northern jungle, the level of risk would be between low and medium, due to the fact that precipitation and temperature conditions would be between their normal values.

Government does not prioritize agriculture

Approach. Giovanna Vásquez, manager of Conveagro

As members of the Multisectoral Commission on Food and Nutrition Security, we have been proposing since before the crisis that policies be institutionalized to address food insecurity and expedite the purchase of fertilizers, but none have been made effective both in the government of Pedro Castillo as in this one by Dina Boluarte.

There are serious problems to face this reality, and it is not enough to study the inadequate consumption of diet, but to prioritize aspects such as the availability of food at home. Climate change has impacted producing areas such as Piura or Cusco, and now that global El Niño has arrived, we are without clarity or the State’s ability to react.

We have already told the Government, in a recent meeting, that its usual plans are misleading since the injection of additional resources is not considered. I don’t think he has a clear conscience or interest in facing the food emergency. It is immoral in Peru that people do not have to eat.

One more element that we must highlight is that the food crisis is not neutral, and is going to affect women more, and among them, the heads of household. We lack strategies oriented to this aspect. The scenario is extremely complex, also considering that in the cities there is less money to eat, although we must recognize that farmers in the countryside are also going hungry, and this is not visible.


Beatriz Salazar, coordinator of Cepes

“What you have to worry about now is the campaign that comes with El Niño Costero and El Niño Global. Some kind of measures should already begin to be taken to prevent the damage from being stronger than what we are seeing now.

Eduardo Zegarra, Grade researcher

“This is a campaign that has been hit hard by weather phenomena. Various products and various crops are going to have less supply this year. Among them, potatoes, corn and rice, which are the great products of Peruvian agriculture.

Source: Larepublica

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