Eguren Fernando. Water for agriculture: possibilities and problems.
Posted by CEPES in: The Agrarian Journal 146, November 2012, Peru.
Peru is one of the country with less arable land per capita, one of the twenty countries in the world with greater availability of water: about 72.510 m3 / capita / year. But about 98% of the water is on the Atlantic side, while two thirds of the population and four-fifths of GDP are in the shed Pacific, which has less than 2% water. In the Pacific there are 62 watersheds, but 80% of them receive little water most of the year, thus requiring dams and in several cases of diversions from the Atlantic part.
A lot of water but bad distributed
As Peru is one of the country with less arable land per capita, is in contrast, one of the twenty countries in the world with greater availability of water around 72.510 m3 / capita / year. But we know that, by its heterogeneous and complicated relief, in our country averages say little: about 98% of the water is on the Atlantic side, while two thirds of the population and four-fifths of GDP are in the shed Pacific, which has less than 2% water. In the Pacific there are 62 watersheds, but 80% of them receive little water most of the year, thus requiring dams and in several cases of diversions from the Atlantic part.
This continues to cause problems and resistances between regions, as seen in conflicts between Cuzco and Arequipa, by-Sihuas Majes irrigation with diverted waters of the Apurimac River, between Piura and Lambayeque, by derivation Huancabamba river to Olmos and between Ica and Huancavelica.
We must also remember that not long years ago, Congress was forced to repeal the law that declared public necessity and national interest execution Diversion Project Marañón River and construction of the dam and the derivation of the Huallaga River had late energy and agricultural, pressured by native communities federations fearful of a transformation of the Amazon.
Continued population growth and economic concentration in the coast exercise greater pressures for water resources, while abundant and poorly laid out and demand the current government and future governments the ability to handle with competence and sense of fairness a horizon that can be very disturbing.
Predation of the aquifers.
In addition to surface waters are the waters that are in the ground, especially in the Pacific, where the total volume is estimated at 2,700 million cubic meters. Some aquifers are overexploited and others are on the way to be. This is the case of the Ica Valley, where its three aquifers, Ica, Villacurí and Boats, are overexploited respectively in 76%, 262% and 100%, according to a report from the ANA. One reason lies in the expansion of cultivated asparagus for export of about 10,000 hectares, a crop that is very demanding in water.
The state’s inability to deal with this situation is evidenced by the fact that only 26% of the wells are allowed, 74% are illegal. Illustration is also an agriculture that can be described as predatory: Ten leading exporters of Ica migrate north by water, fleeing the impending water stress and soil salinization that they helped create, the daily Management announced on 6 September 2012. After exhausting the water and soil damage in one place, they will do the same in another area.
The highlands also needs irrigation.
On the coast is not possible agriculture without irrigation, because it does not rain. But although yes there saw rainfall, irrigation is very important because irrigated agriculture is less vulnerable than one that only depends on rainfall, whose frequency and intensity are increasingly unpredictable due to climate change. Hundreds of thousands of families, poor most of them depend on agriculture for food and cash income. The crop irrigation has better yields, and it is increasingly important to food safety of the country. However, most small hill farmers have no access to water for irrigation, as the interest of successive governments has been to invest in irrigation only on the coast. Irrigated areas in the region are about half a million hectares. In this context, it is encouraged by the statement of the Minister of Agriculture, Milton von Hesse, that this government will spend billions of suns, more than $ 380 million for the development of irrigation in the highlands. In the high forest areas there are zones that require supplemental irrigation during periods of low rainfall, for water-intensive crops such as rice and sugar cane. It is considered that in this region there are more than 100 000 ha under irrigation.
Use well the water
Not enough to access irrigation, we must also make good use of the water. In many areas it is used water in excess, which not only reduces the irrigable areas, but also contributes to the salinization of soils and consequent reduction in fertility. It is estimated that on the coast between third and four-fifths of agricultural land affected by some degree of salinization.
It is considered that the overall efficiency of the use of water in irrigation systems is approximately 35% due to the shortcomings of irrigation systems, a management poor and inadequate and maintained infrastructure. An evaluation a few years ago, found that only 15% of the 55,000 kilometers of canals were coated considered.
Water pollution is also a major problem. Extractive industries, both mining and oil exploitation are very polluting, but the most modern technologies, the pressure of the affected population and some improvement in environmental legislation tend to reduce pollution.
More polluting is informal mining but is difficult to combat because of the large amount of workers who depend on it to survive and by the unwillingness of the State to investigate the large capital and enable the feed.
The waste from large cities are also polluting, less than 30% of the wastewater is treated, as well as the industry, including fisheries. There are many challenges that the country must overcome to harness, equitable and sustainable quality water. Applies to public institutions, and particularly the National System of Public Administration and the National Water Authority, a major responsibility, but should also engage more actively with civil society.