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Making agro-export entrepreneurs out of Campesinos: the role of water policy reform, agricultural development initiatives, and the specter of climate change in reshaping agricultural systems in Piura, Peru

Abstract

To increase agricultural exports across the Global South, countries are seeking to transform agrarian landscapes and the nature of campesino or smallholder agriculture. These agricultural reforms, however, do not exist in isolation. They work in conjunction with water policy reform to reshape agricultural systems and the people who manage these landscapes. While there has been significant research on agrarian change under neoliberal reform, few scholars have conducted empirical studies that examine how agricultural policy leverages water policy reform to generate changes across agricultural landscapes. Drawing on the case study of the Piura River basin in Northern Peru, this paper first explores how the IWRM inspired 2009 Water Resources Law furthers the state's agricultural development priorities by shifting water toward agro-export production. Secondly, this study demonstrates how climate change is being discursively mobilized as an emerging driver of water scarcity to legitimize these water reallocations. Thirdly, this case highlights how these water reallocations work in concert with the reinstatement of targeted agricultural support programs that seek to transform smallholder farmers into “agro-export entrepreneurs” but with meaningful exclusions. This study contributes to the limited scholarship on the 2009 Water Resources Law in Peru and also raises broader questions regarding how IWRM water management, climate change adaptation discourse, and agricultural development policy collectively promote the globalization of smallholder agriculture.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Comunidades Campesinas are legally recognized in Article 89 of the Peruvian constitution. Comunidades campesinas tend to reside in the coastal and Andean region while comunidades nativas are located in the Amazonian region of the country. Both groups have communal territorial rights over their land.

Abbreviations

AGROIDEAS:

Compensation for competitiveness program

ALA:

Local water authorities

ANA:

National water authority

Ha:

Hectare

IWRM:

Integrated water resource management

MINAGRI:

Ministry of agriculture

NGO:

Non-Governmental organization

PECP:

Special project Chira-Piura

WEAP:

Water evaluation and planning

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Acknowledgements

The author appreciates the mentorship of Drs. Chris Scott, Diana Liverman, Carl Bauer, and Tracey Osborne. The author would also like to thank Rossi Taboada, Sophia Borgias, Noah Silber-Coats, Arica Crootof, Richard Johnson, Niki von Hedeman, Laurel Bellante, Tamee Albrecht, and Surabhi Karambelker for their invaluable feedback on this project and manuscript. Thanks also go to the many Piuranos who graciously shared their time and experiences. The author would also like to thank the two anonymous reviewers whose comments greatly improved the manuscript. This research was made possible with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development U.S. National Academies of Sciences Project PEER II 2–359 (linked to the NSF Grant DEB-101049), Tinker Foundation, and University of Arizona’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Institute.

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Mills-Novoa, M. Making agro-export entrepreneurs out of Campesinos: the role of water policy reform, agricultural development initiatives, and the specter of climate change in reshaping agricultural systems in Piura, Peru. Agric Hum Values 37, 667–682 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-019-10008-5

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Keywords

  • Climate change adaptation
  • Agricultural development
  • Water governance
  • Peru