A green certainty: Peru broadens its agricultural frontier: ninety years after it was first conceived, the integral Olmos Irrigation Project will stimulate agro-industry in the desert lands of Peru's northern coast.

Author:Reano M., Vanessa

Location: 560 miles north of Lima, in the Lambayeque region

"United the coast, united the mountains, united the jungle, with you Peru ..." So goes one of the typical waltzes celebrating the nation and the people's pride in its resources. That premise perfectly sums up the historic Olmos Irrigation Project, whose trans-Andean tunnel crosses the cordillera of the Andes, diverting the waters of the Huancabamba River to the arid coastal pampas in Peru's northern region of Lambayeque.

A total of 107,500 acres will benefit from this irrigation and hydroelectric project, which will add to the diversification of crops and will create about 40,000 direct jobs and 120,000 indirect jobs, including suppliers, and positions in spare parts and transportation. The water that crosses the cordillera through a 12-mile tunnel is a gift that keeps on giving, making possible off season harvests and the servicing of international markets with a variety of products.

"The coastal climate is ideal for high-grade agriculture ... the only thing missing is the water, which is plentiful on the other side of the mountains," said Fernando Cilloniz, regional president of lea, speaking at the megaproject's inauguration at the end of last year.

Before this project was developed, the small farmers in the Valle Viejo de Olmos were putting just 1,700 acres of the 13,600 acres they owned into crops. There were 600 landowners with parcels averaging 24.7 acres in size, growing crops like corn and limes, irrigated by the modest flow of water from the Olmos River.

Once it's up and running, this project will be able to increase Peru's agricultural exports by $ 1 billion annually over the next three years.

Next to sugar cane, the most important crops will be avocados and grapes. Danper Agricola Olmos, an agro-industrial company with Peruvian and Danish capital, will start growing both these crops this year on its first 500 acres, out of a total of 2,200 that it will bring into production over three years.

The original investment of $45 million, which includes the purchase and planting of more than 2,500 acres, could increase in the future if the company decides to build processing plants in the area. "We will see the first crop next year, and it will be about a million kilos. By 2023, we are projecting production of about 44 million pounds of grapes, avocados, asparagus and other crops," said Jorge Aranguri, manager of DanPer Agricola Olmos.


The visionary Olmos project...

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