CHIA: The next big Peruvian Super Food in the US Market

A total of 35 Peruvian suppliers exported chia to the United States in 2016, which represented 237,000 kilograms. While there is a great opportunity to continue increasing its exports to this market, a great option that should be considered is introducing value added chia products.

As explained by the Peru Trade, Tourism and Investment Office in Washington, DC - OCEX Washington, DC, chia is a superfood whose demand in the United States continues to grow, mainly due to its health benefits, which include its richness in nutrients which are important and extremely beneficial for brain activity as well as the development of the human body.

Furthermore, these seeds are an important source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein and dietary fiber, in far more favorable proportions than those found in both cold-water fish (salmon, herring, sardines and tuna), and other vegetables such as flaxseed, nuts and almonds.

Chia seeds are rapidly expanding from coast to coast in the U.S, as it is a product that can be used in a variety of ways, whether it is as a topping on a salad or a healthy addition to a drink, chia seeds perfectly adapt to the daily diet and lifestyle of the American consumer.

According to a recent study by the Natural Marketing Institute, in 2014, 27% of consulted U.S. consumers reported they had heard of chia as a superfood. In present day, it is estimated that this number has increased by 10%, meaning that the public’s knowledge of this product has now reached 37%.

A report made by ReadThink in 2015, estimates that in the year 2020, the global market for Chia seeds will have reached $1.1 billion. Additionally, they also predict that U.S. demand will reach over 7,000 tons annually, which really highlights the growing interest among U.S. consumers over this superfood.

Lima's master plan for green infrastructure

Earlier this year, Peruvians were shocked when severe droughts gave way to tumultuous rains triggering landslides that killed at least 20 people, forced thousands from their homes, and — ironically — deprived many in the country’s two largest cities, Lima and Arequipa, of water when swollen rivers clogged treatment plants with rocks and debris.

The wet and dry seasons have been there for millennia, but natural forests, wetlands and man-made pre-Incan structures high in the Andes used to smooth those seasons out by absorbing water in the wet and slowly releasing it in the dry.

That changed over the last century as farmers and settlers cleared forests and wetlands to make way for urban areas and farming, leaving the cities downstream more vulnerable to natural disasters. 

Now, Lima is returning to nature by diverting 1 percent of water fees to restore Andean forests, grasslands and wetlands that provide critical "ecosystem services" such as regulation of water flows. As the city was both drowning and thirsting, it took concrete steps towards putting that money to work.

The first step took place Feb. 7 and 8, when the city kicked off a 12- to 18-month planning phase that could chart the course for the next 30 years. Lima’s water utility SEDAPAL is attempting to develop a first-of-its-kind planning document focused on nature-based interventions: a Green Infrastructure Master Plan that seeks to leverage nature in ways that enhances and complements grey infrastructure.

The water utility quickly found, however, that such an undertaking is far from easy.

It’s never been done before

Not many planning documents explore how green interventions complement grey infrastructure, making this entire effort all the more unique.

This "master plan" that SEDAPAL is developing should help the company understand how it stands to gain from investments in green infrastructure and how these investments can benefit the company’s grey infrastructure, said Gena Gammie, associate director of the Water Initiative at Forest Trends.

Lima is the world’s second-largest desert city and Peru’s most populous city, with 9 million inhabitants drawing water from a complex system of pipes and tunnels. Four Andean watersheds serve the city: the Rimac, Chillon, Lurin and the Alto Mantaro. Water from the Alto Mantaro travels from the Amazonian side of the Andes to where Lima sits on the Pacific coast.

Asking the right questions

Experts agree that wetland and grassland ecosystems upstream of Lima help reduce erosion and are critical for soaking up heavy rains and then releasing water during dry periods. But Lima also has several large reservoirs, raising several challenging questions: Should they, for example, focus on conserving the ecosystems around those reservoirs, thereby reducing sedimentation, or is it better to complement those reservoirs by working in ecosystems outside their catchment areas? What about the middle and lower parts of the watersheds that supply Lima with water? How effective and far-reaching is restoration in these regions?

These are some questions SEDAPAL has to answer in order to create its Master Plan, and it’s getting help from several sources including Peru’s federal government, which in the past few years passed groundbreaking policies related to green infrastructure and payments for ecosystem services.

Lima is returning to nature by diverting 1 percent of water fees to restore Andean forests, grasslands and wetlands that provide critical 'ecosystem services' such as regulation of water flows.

In 2014, legislators approved the MRSEs, in English the "Mechanisms of Compensation for Ecosystem Services" law, which created a legal framework for payments for ecosystem services projects that harness public funds. Last summer, the Ministry of Environment released formal regulations for the legislation offering clear guidance on how to implement it.

Meanwhile, lawmakers approved a modernization of the water sector law that mandated all 50 of Peru’s water utilities incorporate green programs alongside their typical grey infrastructure.

The aforementioned tariff for Lima water users is in direct result of this law. SEDAPAL is tasked with implementing it — and there are questions aplenty on how the company will deploy the accumulating finance. There’s already $5 million sitting in the pot, and it’s projected to reach $30 million by 2020.

SEDAPAL is new to the realm of ecosystem services and green infrastructure, but it appears to be embracing its benefits. After the tariff introduced it to the world of nature-based interventions, Forest Trends developed a green-infrastructure training course, which 12 staff members took in 2016.

Forest Trends co-hosted the Feb. 7 workshop with SUNASS and received support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation to kick-start this entire process. Besides Forest Trends, several other NGOs, the Ministries of Environment and Housing and the National Water Authority also participated.

The point of the workshop wasn’t to reach definitive answers on any specific query, but rather to determine what questions should be addressed during the Master Plan’s development.

Defining the challenges

"This document is not only about state-subsidized master planning at the landscape scale," said Tundi Agardy, director of the Coastal and Marine Initiative at Forest Trends. "This is also about finding ways that natural or green infrastructure can safeguard investments in grey infrastructure like dams, canals, water delivery pipes, irrigation systems and even roads."

With the Green Infrastructure Master Plan, water managers intend to address several challenges that are slowing down implementation of Peru’s green infrastructure policies. Chief among these is a lack of solid projects to invest in and a lack of clarity on how to evaluate them.

So far, only two organizations — CONDESAN and Aquafondo, a water fund that the Nature Conservancy and partners launched in 2010 — have submitted proposals for projects. Forest Trends has been involved in the project proposal process with both these organizations, and Gammie does acknowledge it’s a difficult process involving scouting project sites, community consultations and writing lengthy documents. Then, after proposals are submitted, SEDAPAL must review them to determine if their customers will indeed benefit from them.

Lawmakers approved a modernization of the water sector law that mandated all 50 of Peru’s water utilities incorporate green programs alongside their typical grey infrastructure.

 

Workshop participants recognized that capacity building across the board is critical for short-term implementation and long-term planning among project developers, SEDAPAL and other project evaluators and the upstream communities and municipalities.

While experts lack the kind of data needed to make precise evaluations, they have a general sense of where the high-priority areas are.

"We have some educated guesses, but in most cases we aren’t able to say what will happen if we plant trees here or lose a wetland to cattle ranching there," Gammie said. "But the relative uncertainties about the contributions of the upper watersheds are lower compared to the uncertainties in the middle and lower parts of the watersheds."

Practitioners call the highest reaches of the watersheds, which receive the majority of the region’s rainfall, the "no-regret areas" for projects.

Given current data gaps, Gammie said the Master Plan should build in a research agenda with pilot projects. The plan should adapt as they learn new information on the effectiveness of various green infrastructure interventions over time.

Some of those data gaps may soon be closing. During the workshop, participants discussed a partnership with NASA to use satellite imagery to collect watershed data.

Upward and onward

SEDAPAL has a busy year coming up with some unique opportunities to drive home the benefits of including green infrastructure in its planning. To align itself with the priorities of the new political administration of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who took office last summer, SEDAPAL is updating its Optimized Master Plan, a company-wide planning document that has a 30-year projection. Those working on the Green Infrastructure Master Plan are aiming to have it completed so it can be included in the company-wide optimized document.

SEDAPAL wants to wrap up its Optimized Master Plan by the end of this year so parties involved on the green side have a tight deadline to complete a difficult endeavor. Difficult but not impossible: The political will in Peru is strong and the nation continues to be a pioneer in the nature-based solutions space.

"The advances that Peru is making are incredible," Michael Jenkins, CEO and founding president of Forest Trends, said during the workshop. "Developing this master plan for green infrastructure is a first-of-its-kind in the world."

HERE'S WHY YOU SHOULD ADD PERU TO YOUR BUCKET LIST

We're calling it: 2017 will be the year of the Attention Deficit Destination (ADD). It's travel for people who are so busy they need holidays that are like tapas: lots of bits combining into one delicious whole. Peru is the perfect ADD, and here's why.

The country curls like a cashew nut around Brazil's vast Amazonas state, bordering Ecuador and Colombia to the north and Bolivia and Chile to the south, with all those extremes of landscape and climate in between.

In two weeks, I went from hanging out in Lima's artsy Barranco to spotting anacondas on the Amazon, dodging llamas in Machu Picchu, cycling through the Sacred Valley, culture-tripping in Cusco, flying over the Nazca Lines, clambering up sand mountains in a desert oasis, and checking out floating reed villages on Lake Titicaca, with lot of spectacular road and train miles in between. And I even squeezed in a precious hour – yes, just the one – by the beach.

Soldiers rescue victims of rains and floods

Peruvian Army members rescued a group of people trapped by flooding as a result of heavy rains throughout Peru's northern Lambayeque region over the past days.

Brave action was recorded by Defense Ministry personnel in Pacora district, which has been severely affected by floods. 

Images show a soldier crossing the flooding La Leche River with a minor on his arms.

Water level reaches his knees and he is seen trying to reach the helicopter that was there to rescue them.

Several citizens attempt to do the same, to get into the aircraft and reach safety.

Armed Forces are backing government's efforts to assist victims of heavy rains, which have caused floods in several regions across the country.

According to Defense Minister Jorge Nieto, Armed Forces and National Police will remain in the area to rescue people, who might have been isolated by the weather event.

Peru's Pizarro, Bundesliga matchday's top player

Peruvian striker Claudio Pizarro was chosen Bundesliga matchday 24's top star.

According to the German league's Spanish version site, the Werder Bremen forward received this recognition after having scored one goal in last Friday's game against Bayer 04 Leverkusen (1-1). 

The Andean bomber became Bundesliga's Player of the Week with 41% of the votes, thus beating Douglas Costa (FC Bayern Munich, 33%); Mario Gomez (VfL Wolfsburg, 21%); and Dario Lezcano (FC Ingolstadt 04; 5%). 

It must be noted the 38-year-old has received the honorable mention for second consecutive week and third time in the 2016/2017 season.

Likewise, Pizarro posted another record by becoming the Bundesliga's fourth athlete to have played 200 or more matches defending teams: Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen.

The key to life on Mars could be an institution dedicated to global potato research

Before it can send astronauts to Mars, NASA needs to figure out how to feed them there. To work that out, the US space agency teamed up with a research group in Peru focused exclusively on spud research.

The International Potato Center (known by its Spanish acronym, CIP), is dedicated to understanding how tubers like potatoes can grow and eventually feed everyone here on Earth—but also potentially space travelers to Mars. Last week, CIP announced that after a year, it had been able to successfully grow potatoes in a plot of land engineered to mimic Mars’ harsh environment.

“We want to know what the minimum conditions are that a potato needs to survive,” said Julio Valdivia-Silva, a University of Engineering and Technology-Lima engineer who worked on the “Potatoes on Mars” project.

On Earth, the land where we grow crops typically contains nutrient-rich soil, long periods of sunlight and warmth, and a carbon-dioxide rich atmosphere. Provided plants get water, crops have everything they need to grow. But on Mars, soil is salty, loose, and lacking chemicals like nitrogen, which plants need to grow. Although it can get to a balmy 70°F (21°C) near the Martian equator in the summer, the average temperature is around -80°F.

In February 2016, engineers created a small plot of land imitating a version of Martian climate where plants could possibly grow. They used soil from the Pampas de La Joya desert in Peru—similar to Martian soil because it is home (pdf) to very little life and few organic compounds. They also created atmospheric conditions similar to Mars: cold with low pressure and very little carbon dioxide and oxygen. The tiny crop, just a few square feet in area, was monitored 24 hours a day (which you can still watch here as researchers follow up on the plants’ progress).

Researchers planted seeds for potatoes that had been bred to withstand salty soil and gave them water that had been fortified with extra plant nutrients. After a year, the team reported they had successfully grown a small crop of potatoes—meaning they could probably grow on Mars, too.

The group hasn’t published these findings in a peer-reviewed journal yet, and they only prove that it’s likely possible for potatoes to survive in Martian conditions. Fine-tuning logistics, like figuring out how to bring the seeds, water, and plant nutrients to our neighboring planet is something else entirely.

Mars may not be realistic. But growing potatoes in these conditions shows there is hope we’ll be able to grow crops in the harsh Earth environment that will eventually be created by climate change. “How better to learn about climate change than by growing crops on a planet that died two billion years ago?” Joel Ranck, the director of communications at CIP, said in a press statement last year. “We need people to understand that if we can grow potatoes in extreme conditions like those on Mars, we can save lives on Earth.”

This Peruvian man is suing an energy company because climate change might destroy his house

VICE News’ Arielle Duhaime-Ross travels to the Peruvian Andes where, for the first time, a single individual is suing a company over the effects of climate change.

In this case, Saúl Luciano Lliuya, a local mountain guide in the Andean town of Huaraz, claims that one of the most prolific greenhouse gas emitters in the world, the German company RWE, is partially responsible for the glacial melt which might cause a nearby lake to overflow and destroy his house.

Peru economy grew 4.8 pct in January from same month last year

LIMA, March 15 (Reuters) - Peru's economy grew by a better-than-expected 4.8 percent in January from the same month a year earlier due to mining and manufacturing activity, the quickest monthly expansion in five months, state statistics agency Inei said Wednesday. A Reuters poll had forecast January growth at 4.5 percent. Inei said that the annualized growth rate quickened slightly to 4 percent but that the economy contracted at a seasonally adjusted rate of 0.1 percent in January from December. January growth was driven by a 14 percent expansion in mining, a 5 percent growth in manufacturing and a surge of fishing. However, the construction sector continued to contract amid a graft scandal that has stalled public work projects. Peru is the world's second biggest copper producer and its economy has gradually recovered from a sharp slowdown in 2014 thanks to production from new and expanded copper mines. However, an inquiry into bribes distributed by Brazilian construction company Odebrecht has stalled public work projects and prompted the government to cut its 2017 growth forecast by one percentage point to 3.8 percent. 
 

The mystic shamans who bring the spiritual and physical world together

These incredible pictures offer a fascinating insight into the rich and diverse traditions of Peruvian shamans, known as Curanderos.

Shamans are believed to be a bridge between this world and the next, able to communicate with spirits through magic, rituals and spiritual visions.

In the Peruvian Amazon Basin, shamans use medicine songs called icaros to evoke spirits, communicating with them using totemic items such as rocks that Curanderos believe have special powers.

Although shamans are not as common as decades past, they continue to shepherd their communities across remote Peruvian regions. 

Peruvian fishmeal industry threatened by overfishing

Peruvian fishmeal exports may bounce back this season, but the scale of illicit overfishing by smaller boats continues to threaten the long term viability of the industry, US officials warned.

Peru is the world's top exporter of fishmeal, which is used as a high-protein animal feed, as a substitute for oilseed-meal, particularly in the Chinese livestock market.

The US Department of Agriculture's bureau in Lima forecast Peru's fishmeal production in 20167-18 to bounce back to 730,000 tonnes, up 11% year-on-year, but warned that "overfishing and stocks management will continue to challenge the industry going forward".

Bounce-back

The bureau said the forecast increase in production represents a return to normal levels, after lower anchovy weights supressed the tonnage fished in the previous year.

Fishmeal exports in for 2017-18 up 13%, at a three-year-high of 725,000 tonnes.

But the Peruvian fishmeal industry, which accounts for some 16% of global production, is threatened by overfishing, particularly by small and artisanal boats, the bureau warned.

Tighter quotas still offer 'inadequate' protection

"Mounting concerns by the Ministry of Production over the declining fish stocks are forcing Peru to tighten its regulations," the bureau said.

 "Previously catch quotas were set at the 8.5m tonnes level; however, quota sizes have been dropping steadily towards 3.5-4.0m tonnes in an attempt to sustainably manage and rebuild stocks."

The bureau estimates that the capacity of the country's fishing industry is about four times larger than the permissible catch.

But the bureau said Peruvian restrictions "have not succeeded in adequately protecting fish stocks."

Small vessels ply illicit trade

A key problem is the lack of regulation for small vessels, which can operate year round near the Peruvian shore.

These vessels are supposed to provide for local human consumption, but the bureau warned that in practice "most of this catch is channelled illicitly to more profitable fishmeal processing".

"Troubling for the long-term health of this fishery is that poorly regulated smallscale and artisanal vessels normally operate where the bulk of anchovy spawning occurs and juveniles congregate."

FAE LIMA 2017

FAE 2017, the biggest Festival of Performing Arts in Lima takes place from March 1 to March 11. During those days, 18 creative venues will be displayed.

The festival supports and showcases 8 performances representing the cultural diversity of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, England, Spain and Uruguay. Those plays were previously chosen after competing at a contest hosted by Teatro Peruano. Ten national plays will also be offered that feature work created locally in Lima.

As part of the FAE LIMA 2017 activities, theater production and direction workshops will be offered and the public will also have the opportunity to take part in the plays.

From singers, actors, dancers and directors, FAE Lima 2017, reveals European and South American talent and encourages us to have a larger vision of scenic art.

Tickets for all forthcoming FAE LIMA 2017 shows can be purchased online from Teleticket, or at Wong and Metro at the Teleticket stands.

Are you going to miss this?

Ceviche is throwing a fifth birthday bash – and you're invited

Frith Street in Soho has been buzzing with Peruvian party vibes ever since Ceviche arrived on the scene five years ago. Want to know what the fuss is about? Then get down to the bar and restaurant's fifth birthday shindig on Thursday March 16. 

Obviously this won't be a party-rings-and-sausage-rolls affair – Ceviche has invited seven of its bigwig friends in the restaurant world to whip up their own take on Peru's national seafood dish. Top chefs from Salt Yard, Anglo and Temper will be there, along with Anna Hansen, founder of Clerkenwell's Modern Pantry, and Selin Kiazim, Turkish and Cypriot cookery whiz and founder of Shoreditch’s Oklava. The winner will be announced on the night, and all the dishes will be available for the next five weeks. 

Peru to open 12 new markets for exports

Peru's agricultural products could benefit from new markets with the opening of a dozen of countries in Asia, Oceania and Africa.
 
A delegation of SENASA (Servicio Nacional de Sanidad Agraria) technicians traveled to Malaysia to meet health authorities. Information, techniques, regulations. Further meetings are planned in the short term.
 
Further visits and meetings are planned with agricultural health authorities in South Korea, Taiwan, China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Peru Ad hoc Attorney brings charges against former President Alan Garcia

 

Peru's ad hoc Attorney on the Odebrecht case filed a lawsuit against ex-Peruvian President Alan Garcia (1985-1990; 2006-2011) over crimes against public administration.

The offence was allegedly linked to the execution of Lima Metro Line 1 project.

In a press conference, ad hoc Attorney Katherine Ampuero affirmed former Transport and Communications Minister Enrique Cornejo and Lima Metro Line Autonomous Authority Chairman Oswaldo Plascencia have also been included in the case.

Odebrecht case

As is known, the Brazilian construction giant admitted to having paid bribes worth approximately US$29 million to government officials in Peru, "in order to secure public-works contracts."

As a result, Odebrecht benefited from over US$143 million between 2005 and 2014 in Peru, according to the U.S. Justice Department. 

The period in question covers three previous presidencies: Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), Alan Garcia (2006-2011) and Ollanta Humala (2011-2016).

3rd International Festival of Highlands Music to arrive in Peru

The 3rd edition of the International Festival of Highlands Music (Fima) will take place in Peru by offering a series of concerts in three national regions on March 24-30.

Organized by the Highlands Art Association, Fima is a non-profit cultural initiative promoting a better understanding and recognition of highland music from three continents: Americas (the Andes), Europe (the Alps) and Asia (the Himalayas).

Likewise, the event seeks to become a platform for cultural exchange through the power of art.

Said initiative gathers musicians, artists, academics, celebrities, volunteers, national and international public institutions, as well as private businesses.

In 2017, Fima will first offer concerts at Lima-based Parque de la Exposicion (Exposition Park) on March 24-26. 

In addition, the gigs will continue in Andean cities of Cusco (March 28) and Ayacucho (March 29-30). 

It must be noted Fima concerts also amazed music lovers in Lima, Cusco and Cajamarca regions back in 2016.

Odebrecht could abandon all projects in Peru within six months: Kuczynski

Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, which has admitted to paying bribes in 12 Latin American countries, can leave behind all its ongoing projects in Peru within six months, the Andean country's president said in an interview published Sunday.

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, speaking to local newspaper La Republica, said the government was hoping to minimize the damage to ongoing public works projects that could stem from Odebrecht's exit.

"It's a complicated matter because it's a very large company that has various projects under way in Peru and, of course, there should be a gradual exit," Kuczynski said.

Odebrecht, which has been active in Peruvian infrastructure, energy, irrigation and industrial projects for nearly four decades, is being investigated for a massive corruption scandal that has ensnared the past three administrations.

Asked how long it could take Odebrecht to leave behind all its ongoing projects in the country, Kuczynski said, "I would say six months, perhaps less."

Kuczynski, an ex-banker who took office last year, had previously expressed his wish for Latin America's largest construction company to leave Peru and pay at least 90 million soles ($27.45 million) to settle the graft case.

Odebrecht admitted late last year that it had paid bribes totaling $29 million in Peru between 2005 and 2014. In the past decade, the company had been awarded contracts worth some $12 billion in Peru.

Peru to see rise in mining exploration in next 18 months

Peru's Energy and Mines Minister Gonzalo Tamayo on Monday projected key decision-making in the country's mining ventures, as well as increasing exploration activity in months ahead.

"We foresee a positive trend for the next 18-24 months, both for investment in exploration and for decision-making concerning certain projects," he told Andina news agency.

Better scenario

Such favorable scenario is explained by the recovery of the mining industry's finances, driven in turn by rebounding commodity prices.

Tamayo, currently promoting Peru's geological potential at the 2017 Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Convention, referred to the Inca country's participation in this leading event.

"The Peruvian pavilion has had a positive opening. We've succeeded in gathering a large crowd, thus becoming a focal point for investors, interested parties and project promoters to meet," he underlined.

The national booth showcases the country's appeal and competitive advantages as a mining investment destination, plus its strategy to face difficulties in the sector.

"Last year, Latin America attracted a higher volume of exploration [investments] despite the global downturn. This makes us think that, as a country, we can draw greater investments in exploration this year," he expressed.

Peruvian edge

On the other hand, the Minister highlighted Peru's geological potential and mining data, which give it the edge over other LatAm nations.

"We also rely on a network of human capital suppliers with financial management conditions to bring projects forward," he pointed out.

Lastly, the mining head addressed the latest study by the Fraser Institute, which places Peru as Latin America's best country for mining investments.

"Having our geological potential recognized worldwide is a major thing, but it also challenges us to work better on social conflict management, as well as administrative proceedings for investments," he concluded.

Peru recalls ambassador in Caracas amid diplomatic spat

The authorities in Lima sent a formal letter of protest to Caracas.

The dispute started after Venezuela's foreign minister called Peru's president a coward and a dog, obedient to the United States.

Peru's Foreign Minister Ricardo Luna said his country would not tolerate insults.

During a recent trip to the US, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said Washington did not invest much time in Latin America as it was like a well-behaved dog.

But he said Venezuela was a big problem.

The remark irked the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who called for an apology over the weekend.

On Monday, his Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, said Mr Kuczynski was the only dog, always wagging its tail for the American empire.

Mr Luna said Peru's president was using a metaphor. He said he meant Latin America was not as controversial as other regions.

Since centre-right governments came to power in Brazil and Argentina in recent months, President Maduro has been increasingly isolated in Latin America.