Irrigation in Peru : lack a lot by doing.

Salazar , B. Irrigation in Peru : lack a lot by doing.

Published in : The Agrarian Journal 155, September 2013 , Peru

One of the most worrying effects of climate change in Peru is to reduce natural storage capacity of water as a result of glacial retreat , deprotection of the basin headwaters and other factors. There is much to do in irrigation in Peru , irrigated agriculture is mainly concentrated on the coast.

One of the most worrying effects of climate change in Peru is to reduce natural storage capacity of water as a result of glacial retreat , deprotection of the basin headwaters and other factors. This, in turn , causes increased variability in river flows , resulting on the one hand , a decrease in the availability of water in times of drought , affecting the productive capacity of the agricultural units and, on the other , in an excessive increase flows during the rainy season , which also increases the risk of floods and other disasters.
Against this background , it is necessary that our farmers have irrigation systems that allow them to store water during the rainy season and then use it in the dry , and conditioning intakes and channels so as to avoid the loss of water by filtration.

Agriculture is dependent on rain
The first finding is that rainfed agricultural units reached throughout the country, 1’242 , 970 in 2012 , accounting for 56.15 % of 2’213 , 506 units for National scale land . The area under rainfed agriculture is concentrated in the highlands (50.7 % ) and forest (44.5 % ) . On the coast , only 4.8 % of the surface is  nonirrigated.

Agricultural land under irrigation and rainfed in million hectares, according to natural region.
Source : National Institute of Statistics and Informatics . IV National Agricultural Census 2012 , Peru .

Natural Total % Irrigation % Dry land %
region Hectares   Hectares   Hectares  
Total 7.1 100.0 2.6 100.0 4.5 100.0
Coast 1.7  23.7 1.5  57.0 0.2      4.8
Highlands 3.3  46.3 1.0  38.4 2.3    50.7
Forest 2.1  30.1 0.1    4.7 2.0    44.5

While irrigated units have increased from 792.394 to 970.536 from 1994 to 2012 ( 22.48 % ) , much remains to be done because more than half of the areas still depends on rain pattern that is changing and is no longer predictable , which makes it more difficult for farmers to plan their activities. The forecasts are particularly acute for the south, where recent studies warn that climate change will be evident in the deglaciation and changing rain patterns , which cause or exacerbate water stress .

The dams are concentrated on the north coast
Analysis on units already under irrigation , the situation is worrying because of the uncertainty about the sustainability of water sources . According to the IV CENAGRO only 117.301 farming units (5.3 % of the national total ) use water from dams , small reservoirs or other reservoirs.

Agricultural units using water from dams  are 100.662 (4.5 % of the national total ) and  are concentrated in the north coast, where the great special projects works: Chira -Piura , Olmos – Tinajones, Jequetepeque – Zaña, Chavimochic and Chinecas in Piura , Lambayeque , La Libertad and Ancash deparment . Onsite these large hydraulic infrastructures , in most cases include transfers, have been criticized for encouraging irresponsible consumption of water resources and have low irrigation efficiency that does not exceed 40 % overall . It is necessary  not prioritize only the increase of water supply in these cases , and manage the demand for water to make it more sustainable .

The 16,639 agricultural units that have small reservoirs or dams nationwide are concentrated mainly in the southern highlands: Apurimac , Cusco and Ayacucho as well as in Ancash . The medium-sized projects are not necessarily the best to meet the needs of water infrastructure of smaller agricultural units and scattered, that collect water from ponds and springs , which are precisely the most vulnerable to climate change.
On the other hand , CENAGRO IV data and the results of the studies warn of a lower availability of water during the dry season , in the coming decades , presage a scenario where is very likely to be present more competition for the resource water in Peru , and not only among farmers.

As a result of increasing population and economic growth , other water users such as power generators , mining , or urban populations are increasing their demand for the resource , so it is essential to apply the principles of integrated management of watershed basins. This will allow equitable participation of all water users in the management of the resource and thus contribute to the prevention and resolution of conflicts, which have intensified in recent years due to various factors, including climate change.

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