Carlos Ravines Oblitas, the president of the National Board of Users of the Hydraulic Irrigation Sectors of Peru, said that farmers had called for a 24-hour national agricultural strike on December 29 to protest against the lack of government support for family farming and to demand greater state aid.
“Currently family farming and the water sector are abandoned and the government's disinterest is becoming more and more noticeable. We have asked our bases to abide by the strike in a peaceful manner and keeping the required social distancing,” Ravines said.
In Peru, family farming contributes 70% of the food sold in the domestic market and generates 83% of the agricultural sector's employment, employing more than two million people. This sector contributes approximately 11% of the national GDP.
According to Cesar Guarniz Vigo, the manager of the National Board of Users of the Hydraulic Irrigation Sectors of Peru, the low annual budget that the Government allocated to the agricultural sector proves the state's disinterest in this sector. In addition, Guarniz said, last year, the Government promised to modify Law No. 30157 on Organizations of Water Users after the first national agrarian strike was held. To date, the government has created bill No. 6444-2020-CR do so; however, it is not given the priority it deserves so things remain the same, he stated.
“We have requested a meeting with the President but have received no answer. We briefly met with the sector's minister, who left us with the vice minister, but we don't see a serious commitment from the authorities. 15 days have passed since that meeting and there is no interest in attending us,” Guarniz added.
The sector demands the total restructuring of the National Water Authority and the declaration of national emergency due to water stress, frost, and hail. The National Board of Users also requests the improvement of the conditions of the Catastrophic Agricultural Insurance.
It also calls for the implementation of a program for the formalization of water use rights in favor of small agricultural producers; and the formation of a national council to review the water use rights granted to mining companies and agro-exporters.
Guarniz also said that the Free Trade Agreements (FTA) have been harming small farmers due to the lack of criteria in the implementation of tariffs and price bands that protect national agricultural production.