Peru's asparagus production is currently at its peak, namely with the goal of covering the high demand caused by the year-end festivities.

"The peak has been positive so far and harvest levels are good. The mild climate has helped us and we should reach slightly higher production levels than in 2013," states Carlos Zamorano, Executive Director of the Peruvian Institute of Asparagus and Vegetables, IPEH.

Much has been said about the migration of small and medium asparagus producers to more profitable crops such as blueberries and table grapes.

"That's a rumour that is always running, but according to the latest figures and preliminary results, the acreage remains above 26,000 hectares," affirms Zamorano.

After an asparagus field has completed its productivity period, the plants are "killed" and a different crop must be planted, as opting again for asparagus would have a negative impact on the soil quality and, according to Carlos, this is what is causing the growers to switch to other crops.

"The acreage is not decreasing; on the contrary, if we manage to do away with the mandatory fumigation to enter the United States the acreage should actually start growing again," said the Executive Director of IPEH.

The elimination of this requirement would not only help improve Peru's competitiveness in the world's largest market, but would also result in a "domino effect", as many other countries base their phytosanitary requirements on those of the USDA.

Another factor previously discussed, based on statements from growers in the sector, was the high rate of the ageing of plants and its relationship to the decline in production.

"The plants' age is not a concern; besides, there is no law saying that the plant ceases to be productive at a certain age, it all depends on how you work with it. Some companies have plants older than 15 years and are getting very good yields."

Age of asparagus plantations in Peru. (Preliminary data from IPEH)

What is actually a real concern is the opening of new markets, and in this regard the IPEH is working in partnership with SENASA to finalise, if possible before the end of the year, the first shipments to China; a destination which appears to be very attractive, as it is reducing its production and demand is increasing.

"China has all the right characteristics to become as important for Peruvian asparagus as the U.S. market is today," concludes Carlos Zamorano.

For more information:
Carlos Zamorano