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What is needed to achieve a second agrarian reform

By: Elizabeth Huanca

The current diagnosis of the field is terrifying, says former Vice Minister of Agriculture Hubert Valdivia. Reality supports that claim. For example, in the Arequipa region, the country man, dedicated to family agriculture (90%) subsists up to S / 300 per month. 95% do not have title to their farms and work informally. 80% do not access credit. 90% do not use technology and still irrigate by flooding. This causes 13 billion m3 of water, every year is lost in the sea. The pattern is repeated at the national level.

The date of 2012 agricultural census, He said that for only 24% of the country’s farmers, agriculture was profitable and sufficient to live adequately. The remaining 76% had an opposite perception. Of this group 41% had to alternate their work in the fields and look for another job to give their family a decent life. The picture hasn’t changed much since then, Valdivia says.

The low profitability of the field is reflected somewhat in the fragmentation of the earth, which has reduced the productivity of the farmer. 20 years ago, the average property was 4.2 hectares (ha), today it has reduced to 2.2 (ha).

Smallholder agriculture also prevails in Arequipa. According to the regional manager of Agriculture, Jaime Huerta, there are 148,000 ha and 57,000 farmers. The average land is 3 hectares. However, in areas dedicated to harvesting bread products (potatoes, onions, garlic, vegetables), as in the district of Tiabaya the men of the field subsist with 1 or 2 plots.

Agrarian reform

In this context, the President of the Republic, Pedro Castillo, announced weeks ago the beginning of the II agrarian reform. This has nine axes: food security, associativity and cooperativism, hydraulic infrastructure, agrarian civil service, rural industrialization, state purchases, intergovernmental articulation, cattle repopulation, as well as credit from a development bank.

Valdivia and Huerta agree that agriculture requires reform. They welcome the dignitary’s announcements, but have qualms. The main one, the budget to promote changes, especially in relation to infrastructure such as dams, improvement of canals, purchase of fertilizers and even in the authorization of agricultural credits.

Valdivia recalls that, in recent years, the budget for the agricultural sector has oscillated between 1.5 and 1.7% of the general budget of the State. In 2021, S / 2,178 million (1.5%) was allocated. “In the country we have more than 3 million hectares, with great potential, with the investment made we did not cover even 0.03%”, he highlights.

True reform

For the agrarian specialist, Saúl Durand, true reform must bring the transformation of agriculture into production, technology and competitiveness. “Some proposals are very positive such as reservoirs, associativity, this is necessary and work has been done. You have to analyze to what extent this will be a reform, “he says.

An announcement that generates expectation points to state purchases from small farmers. Durand remembers that this is not new. Previously, it was given through the National Food Assistance Program – PRONAA. The amount promised by Castillo is S / 300 million.

The president of the Santa Rita Users Board, Daniel Lozada, in this regard, asks a question: How many small farmers are able to sell to the State? Lozada points out that in the region 9 out of ten small farmers work informally. He adds that in the region up to 98% do not have property titles, which limits them to access credit and improve their production. In that sense, reformulating your tax and legal situation is essential.

Give formality to the farmer, incidentally balance the scale with the middleman. The former would be free to negotiate and sell. “Onions in the field are sold for 30 cents but to the consumer it reaches 1.50 or 2.00 soles, the intermediary earns more. If the farmer sells directly, that would change ”, he comments. Durand adds that all this must go hand in hand with improving the roads. “How does a potato producer get his product out if he doesn’t have good roads”, he highlights.

Improve Production

In Majes I (Pedregal), 60% of the land is dedicated to low-profitability products such as potatoes, onions, and alfalfa, among others. In the rest of the land, the farmer has aimed to plant other products such as paprika and fruit trees such as grapes, avocados, blueberries, products that a year – at the national level – represent exports of almost US $ 8,000 million. In Arequipa, around 15 thousand hectares are dedicated to these products, generating around US $ 100 million. “In a good onion season you can earn up to S / 15 thousand. In the annual shipment of grapes you earn up to US $ 70 thousand”, Exemplifies Lozada. In this context, he points out that the great challenge is to improve production and open markets for the farmer. Associativity and cooperativism will be vital in this task. v

Price range for products

The restoration of the price range is another announcement of Agrarian Reform II. It is used to stabilize import costs. Experts such as Saúl Durand refer that this is positive, as long as it is applied to certain products, whose internal production is not enough to supply the local market.

Until 2015, only four products were part of the band, rice, corn, milk powder and sugar. Durand says that these should be replaced so as not to harm the local producer, in addition to other subsidized products such as cotton.

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