Plenary: Water Management and Value Chain Relationships

Peru’s agri-export sector has seen a boom over the last decade. We will learn from a leading Peruvian vegetable exporter, a global buyer, and, a water NGO about strategies to develop landscape level solutions to water management in Peru’s productive coastal regions. Camposol, Superior Foods International, and EcoDecision will discuss how can risks be mitigated in vulnerable areas. What are the emerging strategies to achieve landscape level impacts while helping these chains achieve best practices and long-term sustainability?

Notes from the session:

Marta Chavarria, Ecodecison Project Director– overview of water resources in Peru

  • Water for coastal area comes from glacial melt from Andes, Andes mountains are higher in Peru than in Ecuador and Colombia
  • Glaciers have been melting quickly
  • Moors (grasslands) in the highlands, there is a huge wealth of communities that depend on these landscapes – which are managed and cultivated
  • Soils of upper Andes are producing water resources – threatened by climate change and unsustainable practices
  • Cloud forests and mountain forests are threatened by mining, at the same time most of the community agriculture, and most of the communities are on Pacific side but most water is on Amazon side
  • There is very little understanding of how this is changing hydrology of system
  • Coastal communities – 10million Peruvians still don’t have a source of potable water
  • Mismanagement of water resources in coast and cities – majority of water is not treated

Anna Jesus, SUPERIOR FOODS

  • IQF and fresh peppers from AgroMantaro
  • Importing from 4 continents and selling in 24 countries
  • Anna director of food safety & quality, and also leads sustainability
  • 15 yrs ago Ica Valley had very high unemployment, asparagus industry arrived and created massive employment opportunities, near zero unemployment now
  • Do not have water projects in Ica Valley – all water comes from wells which are community water sources, gov’t has now limited the amount of wells you can build
  • Existing wells has been drilled deeper
  • In the last 10 yrs, water table has dropped 20%
  • Peru exports cadmium – toxic mineral to humans, starting to see increasing levels of cadmium in asparagus world wide
  • Superior feels responsible for lands where asparagus grows, what do they do in this region
  • As a food industry we have the ability to partner together with the growers, the communities, the NGOs to find solutions. Stopping agriculture in Ica is not a viable solution, but possibly stopping growing thirsty crop like asparagus should be considered
  • Education of people in Ica, many do not know how agriculture has affected their water sources
  • Advocate for food industry to be positive agents of change

Questions from the floor:

What is the role of government?

  • Growing legislation around water resources
  • Space for innovation to bring together different levels of legislation to do it in a smarter way
  • 6 watershed councils for creating management plans for watersheds – working on how to centrally plan
  • Also economic and environmental zoning for land use, which are not aligned with watersheds and are politically driven
  • Environmental management plans for companies and protected areas
  • Water companies also have to have ‘optimized management plans’
  • These various incentives need to be connected

Are you working with payment for Ecosystem Services Solutions?

  • Connect water users and watershed protectors
  • Ministry of environment driving an innovation lab looking to connect these different laws and incentives
  • Incubator is studying 17 different watershed initiatives

How do you bring together the different stakeholders contributing to problem?

  • Watershed councils in Peru.
  • In US, called ‘compacts’ and highly regulated.
  • Behind the problem there are water rights, water rights need to be redistributed.
  • Councils need to be democratic and structured in a way that smallholders and communities can have a voice.
  • Water has been a major source of conflict, but a major source of conflict resolution as wel.l

How do you build on transparency within planning systems?

  • Building new culture of transparency and engagement, it is a continuous long term learning curve.
  • Watersheds need to be managed in response to that specific location.
  • Building trust is an enabler of transparency.
  • Perhaps Payment for Ecosystem Services is a mechanism to open up these kind of conversations about who benefits.

What is the role of a private company in transition away from a crop?

  • Anna would like input on what the role of the companies should be.
  • What part of identifying and resolving the problems that arise.
  • Superior for example could change the crops they buy from different water stressed regions and are in position to advocate for alternative crops for farmers.
  • Large portfolio of clients also allows them to advocate with clients for more profitable and environmentally/geographically appropriate crops.

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