Opinion: Peru, the neighbor who became rich through agriculture
Last year, 2020, was the year of the pandemic and also the one that showed the world just how necessary the agricultural and agro-industrial sectors are.
Worldwide demand for food continues to grow, and that is why I spoke with my board of directors about what Peru has accomplished - so that the lessons learned there can also be used here in Colombia.
I once heard the phrase, "while Colombian agriculture goes by goat, Peru goes by plane" when speaking about what the country has done over the last two decades.
Today, Peru is a producer and exporter of avocado, mango, grapes, blueberries, asparagus, coffee, bananas, mandarin, onion, cocoa, pomegranates, quinoa, frozen and canned foods. From 2000 to 2020, production grew by more than 1,000 percent and by 2020 its exports were valued at US$8 billion.
As a world leader in agriculture, its main destinations are the U.S., the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Canada, China, the UK, Spain and France. Peru has become Colombia's rich neighbor through agriculture.
The country demonstrated that this sector brings internal growth and generates direct and indirect job opportunities as long as there are flexible labor policies that implement daily and hourly wages, and of course, guarantee social security.
Our neighboring country understood that the state must have a supply of public goods, roads, irrigation, connectivity, access to markets, total openness to investment, adoption of technology, environmental protection and improved importing of plant and animal material, which shortens the paths to the improvement of productivity and competitiveness.
Today, along with everything they have achieved, the country looks at us with a desire to search for unused lands, labor and the tropical climate for their counter-seasonal supply so that they can increase their export volumes.
Welcome, Peruvians. Bring your experience in improving productivity levels and competitiveness with you to Colombia, so we too can close the poverty gap and focus on rural unemployment.
We must also take advantage of the fact that Peruvians want to learn our strategies of small producer involvement.
They have not yet achieved a model of inclusion and equity, which is why they have invited the CCI to recreate our experience in empowering producers, through the methodology of "Competitive and Sustainable Agribusiness Models" to build from the base of the pyramid.
The path is to combine the experience of both countries, achieving a "win-win" to attract investors and increase exports with inclusive social development conditions, particularly in linking rural women in Colombian-Peruvian regions who have been violated, mistreated, cut off from development and undervalued in their skills and abilities.
Clearly, Colombia is ready to become another rich neighbor through agriculture and to be another agri-food leader in the region. We must take this opportunity!