How the asparagus industry has led to sustainability and socio-economic issues the region of Ica
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This research analyzes the Peruvian asparagus industry and its influence on the access of water and land in the Ica region. Firstly the actors and value chain were analyzed. The public actors consist of the water authorities and COPRI. The water authorities are the ANA, ALA, local water authorities and the Junta, who regulate and enforce. Private actors are investors, agro-exporters, agricultural workers, and small farmers. The investors and agro-exporters are considered wealthy, while the workers and small farmers have a low socio-economic status (Schwarz, 2016). The Peruvian asparagus industry contains the agro-exporters’ value chain, and the small farmers’ value chain. The agro-exporter’s value chain is fully integrated and optimized (Schwarz, 2016). The chain of the small/medium farmers is not integrated and each activity is done by a different actor. Different regulations were analyzed to answer the second sub-question. The most important regulations are the trade regulations, water regulations, and land ownership regulations. Trade regulations have allowed foreign investors to acquire land and water. Water regulation allowed an unlimited extraction of water. Land regulations allowed for large land acquisition and agricultural activities (Gomes, 2015). Sustainability issues in Ica were analyzed to answer the third sub-question. Water scarcity issues are affecting Ica’s ecosystems due to agricultural water extraction (Hepworth, 2010). Surface water is used, but the reliability is low as rivers are dried up during the dry periods. Competition leads to pressure to reduce production costs and to increase crop quality (Diaz Rios, 2018). Agro-exporters have gained a preference position which creates inequality between them and the peruvian people. The fourth sub-question looks at socio-economic issues, such as the underpayment and low working conditions for workers. Despite a low unemployment rate, many workers are at risk for losing their jobs, caused by unfair labor contracts. Covid-19 related issues have exposed how much power the employers have over their workers, where employers forced their workers to resume working despite health hazards and poor hygiene situations. The fifth sub-question is answered through analyzing sustainability strategies. Sustainable resource use strategies include water use efficiency, crop switching, regulation of water use, aquifer replenishments, and water import. Working conditions strategies include regulating working conditions and wages, and supporting labor unions (Adam, 2018). In order to answer the main research question and to improve the access to land and water in the Ica region, four groups should be helped. The small asparagus farmers, the population of Ica, and the indegenous communities are best helped with better and more secure access to water and land. The agricultural workers are best helped with better wages and working conditions.