Por: David Bayer
11 October 2009
Tel: 51-56-256036


The Agrokasa Agricultural Corporation, one of the biggest agro-exporters in the rich Ica Valley, with more than 2,900 hectares (7,250 acres), has run out of water. Agrokasa wants to impose its aqueduct project on the Ica Province against the will of the vast majority of the people. The agro-exporter is willing to run the risk that the project will be the “kiss of death” for the Ica aquifer which is in a state of emergency. The Ica aquifer may be dry within the next six years. Agrokasa exports asparagus and table grapes world wide, including to the U.S.
This essay demonstrates how the Neo-Liberal development model, Neo-Colonialism, works. Economic and political power is highly concentrated in Peru, where the executives of Agrokasa sit on the Board of Directors of several other institutions, such Peru’s Central Reserve Bank and Interbank. This fact strikes fear in the hearts and souls of government bureaucrats and mayors who bend to Agrokasa’s demands.
Under the Neo-Colonialism, the State is weak in imposing rules and regulations. It exonerates the biggest corporations like mining and agro-exporters from paying their fair share of taxes. Therefore the State has no resources to implement environmental controls or other public services. This leads to the need to privatize State functions. Given that a small number of families have the financial resources to start companies, Neo-Colonialism opens the door to foreign domination and concentrates power, leading to corruption and the environmental destruction of water, land and other natural resources. The lives of millions become threatened by the Neo-Liberal, Colonial, development model. Company’s like Agrokasa believe that they are “doing good” by creating jobs. But when scientists add up the accounts, more jobs are destroyed by a model which excludes the vast majority from its development benefits and its unsustainable environmental destruction.
How are the vast majority excluded? Ica is a perfect example. There is no agricultural extension program to help small farmers become more efficient and participate with larger farmers in the export trade. The State does not intervene to place wells in operation which could sell water to the small farmers. Instead, it allows low, or untaxed, large companies, with extra capital, like Agrokasa, to buy up the wells and dominate the water supply.

The Ica aquifer is being over-drafted to the tune of 252 million cubic meters (MMC) per year. For example, assuming an overdraft of 252 MMC and a reserve of 1,592 MMC, Ica has 7 (seven) years before the aquifer is dry. However, if Ica experiences a “dry year” in terms of Highland (Sierra) rains, the aquifer might only last 3 (three) more years. The high probability that the Ica aquifer will be dry in the next several years predicts the third Ica disaster after the January 1998 flood and the August 2007 earthquake from which the city has yet to recover. The difference this time is that you can not live without water. So the Province of Ica (about 1 million) will be gone in a few years unless there is a radical change in the agricultural use of water, including the elimination of all crops which use more than 8,000 cubic meters of water per hectare per year (asparagus uses 22,000; artichoke, 30,000; export grapes, 15,000).
Agriculture uses nearly 97 percent of the water in the Ica Valley. The six largest agro-exporters control nearly 50 percent of all the Ica Valley land. Most of them have used “drip irrigation” for water-intensive crops like asparagus (22,000 cubic meters of water per hectare per year versus traditional crops which use 3,000: more than 7 times). These growers are the most efficient by using 15,000 for asparagus; therefore 5 times more water than traditional crops. They have not “flood irrigated” their lands for the last 15 years which is needed to recharge the aquifer . They expanded into new, non-irrigated lands, thereby increasing the stress on water resources and increasing the overdraft. These large agro-exporters have aggressively bought up the wells in the Valley, in areas several kilometers from their land. They have imposed their political and economic power to change the licenses to permit waters from these wells to be pumped, in underground aqueducts, running 10 to 20 kilometers, to their formally dry lands. These activities have dried the farm lands which these wells formally irrigated and for which they were originally licensed. In the process, these water transfer activities by the large agro-exporters (more than 500 hectares) have eliminated many small and medium size farmers. The proof of this is in the fact that nearly 3,000 small producers have ceased buying irrigation waters from the two traditional Water Committees (the River Committee and the Achirana Canal Committee) during the season of flood irrigation, when waters from the Sierra highland rains of Huancavelica run down to the coastal Valley of Ica, from March to May, and during September to October, when the Choclococha Reservoir in Huancavelica releases its waters. It is important to take note of the fact that farmers who pump well water do not have to pay for the use of this underground water which belongs by law to the State.

On September 14,2009, Agrokasa brought 50 Police to confront the Puno Caserio Defense Committee in the District of Tate and impose its aqueduct project across four Districts. The purchase of police forces to impose projects, illustrates a

major dynamic of Neo-Colonialism whereby the State serves the corporations against the will of the vast majority. The Defense Committee opposed the aqueduct project from its beginning in August 2008. In a 19 February 2009 community meeting with Agrokasa, the top administrator of the agro-exporter stated, “Agrokasa will not implement the project because you people of Puno oppose it … not even with the Police forces”. In short, Agrokasa lied to the people by (1) imposing the project and (2) using the Police forces to do it. That Monday, the protesters were told by the State Attorney that if they continued
blocking the road where the trenches to bury the aqueducts needed to be dug, they would be arrested.

Resolution 147 gives Agrokasa permission to implement its aqueduct project for which there is no Environmental Impact Study (EIA) to defend the project from a technical point of view. Agrokasa bullied the Ica Public Water Authority to issue Resolution 147 on 29 December 2008 (when the rest of the public bureaucracy was on vacation) which gives it permission to implement the aqueduct project. Resolution 147 is not only defective by not requiring an EIA. It does not mention the fact that the two 14 and 16 inch aqueducts will travel some 20 kilometers, through four rural districts (Santiago, Pueblo Nuevo, Tate, and Pachacutec). Four wells on Agrokasa’s Santa Rita farm in the District of Santiago will pump water through the aqueducts to Agrokasa’s Catalina Farm, in la Pampa de los Castillos, located in a dry, formally non-irrigated area. The Resolution does not mention the approval of any of the Mayors of these four Districts. Resistance by the population existed before the Resolution was issued. The Mayor of Tate approved the project in 2008 against the will of four City Council persons. After the 14 September confrontation, Agrokasa negotiated a secret agreement with the Mayor of Pachacutec who has no approval from the city council and who has not informed the population.
All of the actions above violate Peruvian transparency laws and the 169 International Labor Organization (ILO=OIT) Agreement (OIT 169) whereby Peru must make sure that there is a “consultative process and approval” by any community impacted by private or public projects. Moreover, Peruvian municipal law and the Peruvian Constitution demand that the people be consulted and approve large projects which might have an impact on their lives.
This lack of genuine consultations represents the Agrokasa way of doing business.
It is the essence of the Neo-Colonial Model whereby a small group of politically and economically powerful corporations convert the State into their servant, for their private benefit. The fact that no EIA was done, within the context of the Ica aquifer which is in a state of emergency due to the 252 MMC overdraft borders on criminal activity . Why? Because without the EIA , we have no way of knowing which areas of the Ica aquifer will dry out as water is pumped across the Valley to Agrokasa’s land in the Pampa de los Castillos. Four kilometers south of the four wells which Agrokasa plans to use in the aqueduct operation, is the community of Mayuries. Its

200 inhabitants have defended their single well for 60 years. Most likely the Mayuries well will dry out within half a year if Agrokasa pumps water through its aqueducts. This is only one of several areas which are likely to be impacted. Dozens of farmers to the south of Agrokasa’s four wells in Santa Rita are likely to see the water in their wells descend to non-useable levels. Thousands will be thrown out of work and rural conflict and violence will explode as drinking and farming water become scarce and non-existent.
Bayer sent a letter to Agrokasa Director, Chlimper on September 11 in English. It is important to note that this communication was sent to Chlimper two full days before the 14 September Police force confrontation. It offered clear alternatives to Agrokasa such as negotiating with the Puno Defense Committee and offering to sell them water for irrigation.
La Achirana Water Committee, which serves some 7,000 farmers, apparently sent an approval of the aqueduct project to the Ica Public Water Authority without any consultation with its membership Assembly . This violates La Achirana charter. Since this publication, I have learned that the Board of La Achirana did NOT APPROVE the project, but only the manager and President of La Achirana approved it. The President had some private business deals, trading wells with Agrokasa, in an obvious “conflict of interest”. This La Achirana approval was kept secret in violation of Peru’s transparency laws and OIT 169. Again this is typical of Chlimper’s/Agrokasa’s operating style which borders on the corruption of public officials. THE PROOF THAT THESE DOCUMENTS HAVE BEEN KEPT SECRET IS IN THE FACT THAT Ica is recently finding out about Resolution 147 in September 2009 but it was approved on 29 December 2008.

A complaint letter, signed by 288 people from the rural area of Ica was sent to the National Water Authority (ANA), on 28 September 2009, requesting that Resolution 147 be nullified (the letter also requested that another similar Resolution 142 be cancelled). The signers included the Puno Defense Committee; the medium size farmers (10 to 500 hectares); small farmers (less than 5 hectares); rural populations in the districts of Tate, Pachacutec and Santiago; the Mayor of Santiago; the people of Mayuries; the Commission which operates several wells in Pachacutec (CRPP) which has existed for nearly 40 years; and several from the Ica Municipal Drinking Water Authority (EMAPICA), including its technical director.
Since the transmission of the letter to the ANA, three other important groups have joined the complaint against Resolution 147: (1) the Rio Seco Water Committee

representing another 150 farmers in the Villacuri-Lanchas area published its complaint on 30 September 2009 in Correo Ica newspaper; (2) the well water operators in the southern part of the Ica Valley announced their opposition to Resolution 147 on 1 October 2009 and (3) Ica River Water Committee Board of Directors (JUDRI) sent a letter to the ANA on October 10 requesting that resolution 147 be annulled and eliminated. The JUDRI represents 7,000 water users!
In summary, a large cross section of the Province of Ica, some 7,500 people, in the rural areas and cities of Ica, including farmers and residents, are against Agrokasa’s aqueduct project and have expressed their opposition formally to the ANA. Agrokasa, in several disinformation communications, argues falsely that the opposition is concentrated in David Bayer and the two leaders of the Puno Defense Committee.
These are some final points about why the people of Ica are calling for the repeal of Resolution 147 and the termination of the Agrokasa aqueduct project:
1- It implies that Agrokasa owns the water below Santa Rita, thereby giving it the right to transport it to Catalina. The Water Law declares that the Peruvian State owns the water: there are no private property rights with regard to water. All licenses for using wells specify that the water must be used in the specific farm area where the well is located. Companies like Agrokasa who have pressured the Public Water Authority to change the licenses to allow the transport of water several kilometers, to other agricultural lands, are violating the intent of the Water Law.
2- If the ANA does not nullify Resolution 147, it will loose all its authority with regard to water management in Peru. The story of the battle between Agrokasa and the people of Ica is being circulated throughout the country as well as abroad. The issue of who should control water in Peru, and in Ica concretely, is clearly specified in the Water Law. Up to now the ANA and the Local Water Authority in Ica (ALA-Ica) have not approved Resolution 147 which was issued by the old Ica Water Authority (ATDR-ICA) under the previous water law. But the ANA has declared a freeze on the perforation of all new wells, the changing of the use of water, and prohibited the expansion of water resources for new agricultural lands in Ica and two other coastal valleys (Ica-Veda Acuifero-ANA-Res.No. 0327-2009,15June09). The Agrokasa project is in clear violation of the freeze (Veda).
3- The Resolution 147 states that there is “excess water in the Ica aquifer” near Agrokasa’s four wells. This is a blatantly false statement because (1) it ignores the fact that the Ica overdraft is more than 250 MMC and will collapse the aquifer within six years and (2) it implies that Agrokasa owns the underground water below its wells and is free to move it wherever the company chooses.

4- There is no EIA which might indicate the potential negative, environmental impacts of the project. Like it or not, when an aquifer is in a state of emergency like Ica’s water resources, the EIA must be required. Agrokasa says one is not needed.
5- Disregarding Peruvian law, consultations and approvals for the aqueduct project have not been properly executed or obtained by Agrokasa. Only a small handful of people (5) have approved Agrokasa’s project: the Mayor of Tate but not the city council; and recently, after the 14 September police confrontation in Puno, Agrokasa obtained a secret agreement from the Mayor of Pachacutec without city council approval; the Ica Water Authority employee who signed the 29 December 2008 Resolution 147; and the president and manager of the La Achirana Water Committee without Board or Assembly approval. On the other side, more than 7,500 people in Ica, from a wide cross-section of farmers, rural residents, and drinking water authorities (EMAPICA) strongly oppose the project.
6- The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the financial arm of the World Bank, has refused to finance the Agrokasa project due to three complaints sent to it by Ica’s farmers and the Puno Defense Committee. Moreover, the IFC and World Bank have been informed of the increasing number of people opposed to the project as indicated by the 29 September 2009 complaint sent to the ANA and other groups which joined the resistance after that date, nearly 7,500 in all.

PoR: David Bayer

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