Return to the countryside a double-edged sword for Peru

By Carla Samon Ros

Iñapari, Peru, Jun 17 (EFE).- The Covid-19 pandemic spurred tens of thousands of Peruvians to abandon crowded cities for the countryside, a boon for agriculture that simultaneously threatens to fuel deforestation.

Both the positives and the negatives of that migration are evident in the Amazonian region of Madre de Dios.

Veronica Maria Cardozo, 52, and her family are raising 300 head of cattle on 130 hectares (321 acres) in Iñapari, a municipality that sits on Peru’s borders with Brazil and Bolivia.

She inherited the land more than a decade ago, but it was only with arrival of Covid-19 that Veronica and her family decided to make their home in Iñapari and turn the spread into a working ranch.

“The pandemic came and we all came to the country to wait and now, nobody is going back. It’s easier to live here, we have produced much more,” she tells Efe.

Around 250,000 Peruvians made the move from the city to the country during the period of March-December 2020, according to a study by analysts with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

“We don’t have the exact number, but there is a notable change,” the regional agriculture director in Madre de Dios, Carlos Gutierrez, told Efe.

The influx is reflected in an expansion of the amount of land devoted to farming and ranching, which the Peruvian government says accounts for 91 percent of deforestation.

Data from the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) indicates that in the southern part of Madre de Dios, the surge in agriculture had a greater environmental impact than gold mining in 2021.

But Abraham Cardozo, the top official in Tahuamanu province, which includes Iñapari, said that the recent migration has increased the appeal of the rural life, especially to young people who in the past would have found themselves obliged to seek their fortunes in the cities.

“We are already training little cowboys,” Veronica Cardozo says. “They are learning quite a lot and the idea is that at least one or two members of the family can carry our project forward.”

Her 8-year-old nephew Diogo looks like a promising candidate as he rides in the back of a pickup truck between the ranches of his aunt and his grandfather, Manuel Flores Rios.

“I have four sons and all four are dedicated to raising cattle. I even have grandchildren who are involved and I believe that this will be the future,” the patriarch says on his ranch of more than 300 hectares.

The Flores family are among the 230 ranching outfits in Madre de Dios who have attended courses offered by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) such as Sustainable Cattle Ranchers and Women Cattle Ranchers. EFE


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