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Peruvian crafts: part of our history in danger of disappearing

Peruvian crafts: part of our history in danger of disappearing

Jaime Porcela gets up early every day on the Kamisaraki island of the Uros, Puno, to be able to make his reed-based fabrics. He has been working in the craft industry for more than ten years, as have his brothers and his wife, since the teachings on loom techniques are shared from generation to generation within his community. Each one is in charge of obtaining the raw materials and producing their own inputs; That is, they themselves cut and dry the cattails so they can then work with it. He does not receive a fixed salary and the activity he dedicates himself to depends solely on tourism; Therefore, in addition to being a craftsman, he is a fisherman. In that sense, formalizing is not among his priorities.

According to the Permanent National Employment Survey (EPEN), andIn Peru there are around 416,190 artisans and, of that total, 77.2% work informally. Along these lines, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (Mincetur) created the National Register of Artisans (RNA) in 2022. This platform is located in the Information System for the Promotion and Development of Artisans (Sidpar) and allows you to update your data and identify who still does not have the Single Taxpayer Registry (RUC). However, to date, only 62,583 have been registered and, of them, 62.6% are in an informal situation.

Dalila Gamarra, member of the board of directors of the National Society of Industries (SNI), points out that many times artisans are in a place where they do not have access to information. That would explain why not everyone knows about this platform.

“The RNA does not really reach the communities that are in deep Peru and I am not only talking about the Andean zone, but there are also the artisans of the jungle. While it is true that Mincetur did the work of disseminating it, the most hidden areas do not know about this record,” he highlights.

Even in Puno, this being the department with the most artisans registered in the system (11,750), people like Jaime Porcela, who live on islands, far from the city, do not know of the existence of this platform.

“I haven’t heard about the RNA, we don’t receive any bonuses from the State either. My livelihood is tourism and in low seasons I dedicate myself to fishing,” she says.

According to the latest report published by the Foreign Trade Society of Peru (Comex), the informality rate in the sector would have decreased by 2.7% from 2022 to 2023. Although it is not a significant percentage, the union highlights the importance that this formalization brings to annual sales, being S/16,800 for those who own RUC and S/8,900 for those who do not have it. Faced with this, the representative of the SNI explains that the amounts actually vary because, even when they become formal, artisans encounter other obstacles.

“There is a lack of policies that identify the characteristics that this sector has. If we are going to evaluate costs and benefits, there are no dissemination and awareness policies because behind crafts many people live in extreme poverty,” says Dalila Gamarra.

  Income.  Totora-based fabrics depend solely on tourism, says Jaime Porcela.  Photo: diffusion

Income. Totora-based fabrics depend solely on tourism, says Jaime Porcela. Photo: diffusion

Minimum remuneration

Alejandro Hurtado began with the burilado mate technique at the age of eight, in Cochas Chico, annex of Tambo, Huancayo. Today, with more than 52 years of experience, he says that, although becoming formalized has allowed him to participate in fairs and close negotiations with export companies in Lima, the profits he obtains do not even reach the minimum wage and there are months in which he receives nothing. .

“When they send me quarterly orders, they pay me between S/7,000 and S/9,000, but from October of last year until March sales stopped, that’s why I go to small fairs where I sell my products for S/50 or even S/. /100 and I also dedicate myself to raising guinea pigs and chickens to generate income in my home,” he comments.

That is, in the best of cases, when large quarterly orders arrive, you receive approximately S/3,000 per month. Now, if we subtract from that the investment in raw materials – taking into account that he himself travels to Trujillo to get the native pumpkins -, in addition to the cost of sending the orders to Lima and the payments that must be made to Sunat, finally, The real amount they receive ranges between S/700 and S/800 per month, approximately the same as what an informal worker receives or even less.

On the other hand, Jaime Porcela comments that his earnings are very random because they depend on the number of tourists the boat brings. Just as sometimes 20 potential buyers can arrive, other times only two arrive.

Disproportionate sanctions

The master of burilado mate feels that the State does not contribute to the growth of the artisan, but quite the opposite, through the sanctioning measures it imposes.

During the pandemic, Hurtado says that, for a statement that was not entered into the system, Sunat fined him S/1,400, an amount that he had to divide into five parts.

“For us, the artisans of a small town, everything is more difficult and the institutions do not understand it. I am not an accountant and it is difficult for me to comply with the requirements they demand. The State asks that we formalize and contribute, but what does the State do for the artisan,” he questions.

Along these lines, he emphasizes that the Government It should provide solutions according to how sales are made in the sector and take into account the place where the work is being carried out because it is not fair to measure independent artisans and large companies with the same yardstick.

“Crafts cannot be evaluated as an industrial sector. The formality of artisans should not be studied with the same indicators with which it is studied in other sectors because the characteristics are different,” emphasizes Dalila Gamarra.

This is not the only concern of the artisans, but it could be the cause of one of their greatest fears: the extinction of their culture. And their children, seeing the difficulties they are going through, do not want to dedicate themselves to crafts. This is the case of Hurtado, who says that his son preferred to look for better opportunities in Lima.

“The majority of the children of the artisans here practice another profession, some have gone to work in the municipality or the mine and a large percentage is migrating. Maybe in 15 years or a little more there is a risk that burilado mate will disappear because it is a technique that is only developed in Huancayo,” he says. That is, if master craftsmen die, they take their knowledge with them and in many places in the world Peru part of our culture would be lost. For this reason, formalization that fits the profile of the artisan and that generates growth opportunities must be encouraged.


Of the S/23,166 million allocated to the sector in 2023, 87.6% was executed. Generally speaking, most departments executed more than 80%.

Lima, at the top of the departmental labor ranking list, received a budget of S/10 million and executed 96%.

Puno, despite its large presence in the RNA, only executed 64.3% of the assigned budget (S/5 million).

Artisan revival

The artisan sector is one of the few sectors that have overcome the pre-pandemic hurdle. It has been possible to reach US$46 million in exports and US$98 million in sales within the local market.

Mincetur plans to hold 24 craft fairs in a coordinated effort with regional and local governments. It is expected that this measure will generate sales of around S/3.5 million.

Through the ‘We Are Crafts’ contest, a budget of S/5.17 million has been allocated to promote the reactivation, innovation, formalization and competitiveness of 1,035 artisans and their associations.


Dalila Gamarra, member of the SNI

“The RNA does not really reach the communities that are in deep Peru and I am not only talking about the Andean zone, but there are also the artisans of the jungle. Although it is true that Mincetur did its dissemination work, the most hidden areas do not know about this record.”

Family units

Approach. Rusbel Hernández, director of Artisanal Development of Mincetur

From the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (Mincetur) we have identified around 60% of people who are dedicated to artisanal activity, but not permanently. It is a seasonal activity, in some cases, especially in dispersed rural areas, where the population is dedicated to other activities such as livestock or agribusiness.

In that sense, crafts appear as an opportunity for economic development. Formalization is a long process for this type of productive units, because they are actually family units. As it is not a periodic activity, but rather a stationary one, what they seek is to join the production process through this action.

Normally, we try to identify them and, progressively, provide them with formalization services through tax benefits or give them some notion or services linked to the development of productive offer.

Source: Larepublica

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