Peru to speed up Chavomichic, Majes-Siguas irrigation projects

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Friday, December 5, 2014

The Peruvian government will seek to accelerate large-scale irrigation projects to counter the effects of global warming on agriculture, finance minister Alonso Segura said.

Peru, the world's largest exporter of asparagus, organic coffee, oregano and paprika, plans to publish an addendum this month to overcome bureaucratic obstacles to the Chavimochic stage III and Majes-Siguas irrigation projects, Segura said.

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Permitting delays and other hurdles are holding up an estimated US$42bn in investment projects in Peru, according to business group Confiep. The addendum will also be published next week to speed up other infrastructure projects such as roads, according to the transport ministry.

Peru, where 62% of the population lives on the Pacific coast, currently taps just 1.8% of freshwater that flows into the sea, Segura said. Irrigation ventures such as the US$600mn Olmos project, opened last month, are helping farmers to overcome drought caused by weather phenomena such as El Niño, Segura said.

"Peru is one of the most vulnerable countries to the process of global warming, which has a major impact on the availability of freshwater," Segura said at the UN COP20 global warming conference in Lima. "We need to keep investing in strengthening our capacity for prevention."

The government is also investing 1bn soles (US$340mn) in small irrigation projects such as reservoirs and canals in the Andes as part of the Mi Riego program. Subsistence farmers in vulnerable areas will also be covered by an agricultural insurance in case of catastrophes, Segura said.

"These are projects in highland areas which seek to generate sustainable agriculture and ensure an optimum use of water resources," the minister said.

Peru is hosting the COP20 conference through December 12.