Farming families in the Mantaro Valley of Peru’s central Junin region have been cultivating crops like potatoes and grains for centuries. So, when the USAID Poverty Reduction and Alleviation project team suggested that some switch to a new crop, the farmers were curious to learn more. The idea was to grow artichokes that would be canned and sold for export.
The artichokes would bring a higher price than crops traditionally grown in the region. Moreover, the project was assisting a Peruvian-Spanish company, AgroMantaro, to establish a new facility to process and export locally produced artichokes.
The project helped the farmers prepare their fields and begin cultivating the high-quality artichokes that would bring the most revenue. While the farmers were preparing their fields, the project worked to build other parts of the production and export chain to ensure there was a market for the artichokes. For instance, after the project advised AgroMantaro on its processing facility, the company purchased land and built a $1 million processing plant. It was completed in April 2005. The plant can process up to 600 hectares worth of artichokes per year. During its first year, it created 83 jobs and processed 300 hectares worth of artichokes, exporting the canned vegetables to France, the United States, and Spain. AgroMantaro expected to grow rapidly, eventually creating 300 jobs and purchasing up to $3 million worth of artichokes per year from the local economy.
About 220 farming families have switched to artichokes. Depending on how much land they are devoting to artichokes and how many artichokes AgroMantaro and the region’s other major buyer, General Mills, purchase, families can make as much as $10,000 each year from artichoke sales alone.
Other regions are looking at the Mantaro Valley as an example to replicate — in fact, the regions of Ayacucho and Huancavelica, south of Junin, and Huanuco, further north, have started to replicate the model, ensuring that artichoke cultivators have a bright future in Peru.