Thursday , March 30 2023

Swedwatch: Import of Asparagus from Peru creates water shortages


Vegetable crops in the Peruvian Ica Valley require large amounts of water, which poses problems for locals. This shows a new report by Swedwatch.

Smaller farmers are forced to sell their land when their wells and their illnesses and other health risks spread when large local companies quench groundwater.

"Lack of water means people have to keep water for a long time, so it's easy to spread diseases, while maintaining good hygiene," says report writer Malena Wåhlin.

Malena Wåhlin
Malena Wåhlin Photo: Swedwatch

Ica Valley, whose name has nothing to do with the food company, is south of Lima and has the best conditions for growing asparagus throughout the year.

And asparagus is popular. Since the early 2000s, exports from Peru, mainly in the US and Europe, have doubled, according to the report.

The problem is that the region is small, and farms must use the same underground waters as locals. Approximately 90% go to vegetable crops, and communities around the world can stay in the last tenth.

– In the most unfavorable areas I visited, people have access to water for several hours every two weeks. It creates problems for health and livelihood for the population, says Malena Wåhlin.

Except driving Health and health issues, such as the spread of bacteria and diseases, also affect smaller farmers who are prioritized for the benefit of large companies.

"Their fountains dry completely and are unable to continue to grow, so many people are forced to sell their fields," says Malena Wåhlin.

About 99% of the asparagus in the area is heading for exports, especially in the United States and Europe.

Swedish food chains who sell from Ica Valley are Coop, Axfood and Ica. In addition to them there is also a handful of asparagus wholesalers in the region. Some of them are familiar with the issues in the area and have been familiar with it for many years.

"When you buy products from a high-risk area that is so dry from the start, it's even more important to carry out proper risk analyzes. Companies have not done this despite awareness of the problem," says Malena Wåhlin.

Swedwatch believes companies need to help resolve the crisis with manufacturers, because the government and locals have little power.

"We take it seriously, and we think it is good that the review should be done. We have been in the process of answering questions and now that the conclusion has come, we will use it in our ongoing work," says Anders Axelsson, Quality Manager at Ica .

Even Axfood, the company behind her Hemköp and Willys, are familiar with the problem before.

"Water issues are complex and we have to look at how other parts of Peru are affected. We planned a trip in March to visit suppliers in the Ica region and other Peru," says Axfood , Claes Salomonsson.

They recently adopted a goal of finding a way by 2020 to assess how water-poor suppliers can reduce their impact.

In the region, around 800 000 people live and the area's crops have contributed so early to jobs, economic prosperity and infrastructure.

A boycott suddenly imported would risk making the state worse for the population who, after all, became dependent on cultures. Both Ica and Axfood are aware of this, but the concrete solution has neither them nor Swedwatch.


the report is being carried out by Swedwatch together with the Diakonia Assistance Organization and the Codexian Peruvian Organization dealing with water and human rights issues.

The findings are based on hundreds of interviews with local people, authorities, academics and industry representatives in Peru and Sweden.

Source: Swedwatch

Asparagus Cultivation

Spruce growth in the Ica Valley has passed from covering 5,600 hectares in 1996 to cover now 15,000 hectares.

An asparagus may require up to 15,000 cubic meters of water per hectare.

It can be compared to other fruit and vegetables in the area that require between 5,000 and 6,000 cubic meters.

Water to crops is taken from the same underground water as the nearby communities. About 90% go to farms, which has made it hard for people to get water.

In some parts of the region, groundwater has fallen by 1.5 meters per year, and many households only have water a few hours a week.

Source: Swedwatch

Source link