Peru agriculture minister announces multi-million investment for agriculture sector

Agriculture Minister Ismael Benavides Ferreyros announced an investment of about $300 million this year in order to improve productivity of Peru’s agriculture sector ahead of the implementation of the U.S.-Peru free trade agreement.

The Agriculture Ministry has set a a goal of producing 400,000 new jobs within the sector, and another 200,000 jobs to agricultural production by 2011.

“We are going to invest approximately $300 million this year that will be used for plans and programs in the countryside in order to carry out the objectives of our Strategic Agrarian Plan,” Benavides told Radioprogramas radio Monday. He added that the investment “will help to lower rural poverty by 35 percent, resulting in economic improvement for 540,000 rural families.”

Peru’s agriculture sector promises to undergo profound changes with the implementation of the U.S.-Peru FTA, signed into law Dec. 14 by President George W. Bush.

Critics say the FTA will jeopardize the livelihood of thousands of Peruvian farmers, particularly producers of sensitive products like rice, potatoes, corn and wheat in the Andes, who will have to compete with the influx of heavily subsidized U.S. exports. Supporters argue the deal will provide farmers with new opportunities to market products like artichoke, maca, and quinoa.

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