Wednesday , February 24 2021

Swedwatch: imported asparagus in Peru causes water shortages

Plant crops in Peru's Ica valley require a large amount of water that causes problems for local people. This displays a new message from the Swedwatch organization.

Smaller farmers are forced to sell their land when their wells, diseases and other health risks are spreading when local big companies cleanse deep water.

"The lack of water means people have to maintain water for a long time, so it's easy to spread the disease, while maintaining good hygiene," says rapporteur, Malena Wahlin.

Malena Wåhlin
Malena Wåhlin photo: Swedwatch

Ica valley, whose name is has nothing to do with the food business, is south of Lima, and has the best conditions for asparagus growing throughout the year.

And asparagus is popular. Since the beginning of 2000, exports from Peru, mainly to the United States and Europe, have more than doubled according to the report.

The problem is that the region is low and farms should use the same groundwater as the locals. About 90 percent goes to vegetable crops, and communities around the world can be kept until the last tenth.

– In the absolute worst areas we have visited, people have access to water a few hours every two weeks. Malena Wåhlin says that it creates problems for both the health of the population and for living.

Except that it leads Health and health problems, such as the spread of bacteria and diseases, affect small farmers, who have a high priority for big business.

"Their wells have dried completely and they are not able to grow further, so many people are forced to sell their fields," says Malena Wåhlin.

About 99% of asparagus in this area is exported mainly to the United States and Europe.

Swedish food chains whose sales from the Ica valley are Coop, Axfood and Ica. In addition, they also have a small wholesaler of asparagus from the region. Several of them are familiar with the problems in the region and have been familiar with them for several years.

"If you buy products from such a high-risk area that is so dry from the beginning, it's becoming increasingly important to carry out appropriate risk analysis. Companies have not done this, even though they are aware of the problem," says Malena Wåhlin.

Swedwatch believes that companies need to help resolve the crisis with producers, because the government and the local people have little energy.

"We take this seriously and believe that it is good that the test is being carried out. We have answered questions and now that we have a conclusion, we will use it in our current work," says Anders Axelsson, Ica's quality manager.

Even Axfood, a company behind Hemkops and Willys, before they are familiar with the problem.

"The water problem is complex, and we also need to look at how other parts of Peru are affected, we are planning a trip in March, where we will be visiting suppliers in the Ica region and other Peruvian countries," says Claes Salomonsson, Axfood's press secretary.

They recently adopted a goal to find a methodology by 2020 to assess how water shortage suppliers can mitigate their effects.

About 800 000 people live in this region, and crops in the region have, over the years, contributed to both jobs and economic well-being and infrastructure.

Sudden import boycott could endanger the situation of the people who subsequently became dependent on crops. Both Ica and Axfood are aware of it. But the exact solution is neither for them nor for Swedwatch.


the report has established the Swedwatch organization together with the Deacon Assistance Organization and the Peruvian Kodic Organization for Water and Human Rights.

The conclusions are based on hundreds of interviews with local people, authorities, academics and industry in both Peru and Sweden.

Source: Swedwatch

Asparagus Cultivation

The Ica valley spruce harvested in 1996 from 5,600 hectares to 15,000 hectares.

Asparagus may require up to 15,000 cubic meters of water per hectare.

It can be compared to other fruits and vegetables in the area, which requires from 5000 to 6000 cubic meters.

Water crops are taken from the same groundwater as neighboring communities are used. About 90 percent go to farms, which make it difficult for locals to get water.

In some parts of the region, groundwater has decreased by 1.5 meters per year, and many households have only a few hours a week.

Source: Swedwatch

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