Farming activities represent only 5.3% of the GDP but are the main source of employment in Peru with nearly 30% of the population working in this sector, followed by commerce (17.8%) and manufacture (11.4%).
According to the last survey on the use of land (2012), only 30% (38.7 million ha.) of the Peruvian territory is agricultural land, out of which only 18.5% is cultivable land whilst the remaining 81.5% is pasturable lands.
The highlands represent the largest extension of land for agricultural activities with 60% of the total, whilst 31% is located in the jungle and 9% in the coast. However, the use of this land differs from region to region. In the coast, more than a third of the total extension is cultivable land but suffers from water stress which has a negative impact in 55% of this area. The highlands and the jungle, on the contrary, have large extensions of pasturable lands with 86% and 14%, respectively. (see the full report on the distribution of land here – in Spanish only)
The main agricultural products are rice, potatoes, asparagus, corn, coffee beans, cacao beans, onions and a large selection of fruits such as grapes, oranges, mandarins, mangoes, blueberries, avocadoes, apples and other exotic fruits. Additionally, some products classified as superfoods are also grown in Peru such as quinua, kiwicha, golden berry and maca.
In terms of livestock, poultry farming is the main sector with a contribution of 50% to livestock products value in Peru. The second half mainly comprises cattle (including llamas and alpacas), pigs and sheep farming.
The productivity in the farming sector has increased notoriously in the last two decades. Between 1994 and 2014, the output value of this sector grew in 90% whilst the agricultural land has grown only in 9.5% in the same period. This has been achieved thanks to a better use of the resources available and more investments in the sector.
Despite the growing trend, the last two years have seen a slowdown in the agricultural output mainly due to lower coffee production, as a result of the negative effect of the yellow rust plague, and lower production yields in rice and hard yellow maize due to unfavorable weather conditions. For more information, please download the “Informe Seguimiento Agroeconómico" (in Spanish only), a monthly report published by the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Peruvian government has given especial attention to the farming sector due to the direct impact on half of the population and the capacity to improve the living conditions of millions of inhabitants of rural and poor areas. Programs such as “Sierra Exportadora” aim to improve not only the production in such regions but also to set up the conditions for creating new initiatives up in the agribusiness value chain. Furthermore, the policy guidelines for this sector comprises several aspects such as sustainability, infrastructure, water management, access to credit lines, R&D and market access. (For a full presentation on these guidelines -in Spanish only- click here)