UN agricultural agency aiding Peruvian alpaca farmers

5 February 2010 – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is rushing veterinary care to the rural population in the Peruvian Andes, where the Government has declared a state of emergency after two weeks of heavy rains.

Livestock farmers in the central and southern regions of Apurimac, Ayacucho, Huancavelica, Puno and Cusco are in a serious crisis, according to FAO, as the rains threatened their means of livelihood. On Monday, Peru's Civil Defence announced that some 37,000 people have been affected.

The FAO Emergency Rehabilitation and Coordination Unit, working with the regional Peruvian government, has issued a call to all organizations involved in the region for immediate support and development of activities to promote the agricultural sector.

Among its projects in the areas, FAO is providing emergency veterinary kits for the treatment and prevention of bronchial pneumonia in baby alpacas in the communities of Arequipa, Puno and Cusco. These areas, home to alpaqueros – smallholders whose livelihoods depend completely on raising alpacas – are most vulnerable to damage from heavy rains and snowfall in areas over 4,000 metres above sea level.

Alpacas provide both meat and wool for the farmers in the region, and their survival is linked to keeping their herds alive.

According to the FAO, there are approximately 40,000 alpacas in need of urgent attention in the Canchis province of Cusco.

FAO is coordinating with communities, local and regional governments in Peru, as well as Spanish and European Union aid and humanitarian agencies, to distribute the kits. FAO’s work has also helped local communities acquire skills in emergency preparedness.

In 2008, the Peruvian Government declared a state of emergency when an unseasonable cold spell, known locally as “El friaje,” threatened 11 of the country’s 25 provinces.


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