Peru government plans training for rural communities to prepare for FTA

Over 4,000 rural communities in Peru will receive State training to alleviate economic difficulties from the free trade agreement with the United States. According to the National Program for Watershed Management and Soil Conservation (PRONAMACHCS), farmers will receive the training so they can take advantage of new opportunities provided by the FTA.

PRONAMACHCS General Manager, Rodolfo Beltrán, says trout, artichoke, and alpaca fiber will be the most successful products on the international market. ¨But also maca, quinua, quiwicha, and many other crops that are cultivated in the Andes. That’s why it’s so important to strengthen the production chains, which is the first task in organizing exporters.¨

Currently, less than 10 percent of Peru’s crops are exported. ¨The majority of Peruvian agriculture is sustained by local demand,¨ said Luis Zúñiga, the president of the National Agriculture Convention.

Critics of the FTA say thousands of poor Peruvian farmers will be displaced by the onslaught of U.S. agriculture exports, forcing them into cultivation of coca, the raw material for cocaine. They will have to ¨confront unequal competition from North American agricultural products that receive millions in subsidies. The harm won’t only be to cotton, corn and wheat – which are compensated – but also to other sensitive products like rice, potatoes, milk, meats, oils, barley and sugar¨ Zúñiga said.

The FTA was approved by the U.S. Senate yesterday. The accord awaits the ratifying signature of U.S. President George W. Bush and legislative changes in both countries before it can be fully implemented.

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