FAO responds to “friaje” emergency in Peru
Medicines and vitamins provided to save 18 000 alpacas
31 July 2008, Rome - As part of an urgent relief effort FAO’s Peru office has provided 36 800 doses of antiparasitic medicines, antibiotics and vitamins to poor farmers in highland Peru whose livestock are suffering as a result of a severe unseasonable cold spell. The supplies are being used to treat some 18 000 alpacas in the country’s Pilpichaca en Huanvavelica district that have been weakened or fallen ill as a result of the unexpected cold snap, known locally as “el friaje.”
The El friaje phenomenon involves a combination of unseasonable low temperatures, frosts, snow and hail that damages crops and the high-altitude pastures on which alpacas graze, according to Marc Vandersmissen, FAO’s Emergency Coordinator in Peru.
The window of opportunity available for the cultivation of crops in the high Andes is very short, with limited dates on which farmers can sow and harvest. And in recent years, traditional weather patterns in Peruvian Andes have changed, handicapping farmers’ ability to accurately estimate when to sow and harvest.
This year, the cold arrived well ahead of the usual season—in March and April, instead of June—and many small-scale farmers have not been able to harvest their crops.
Even more affected are smallholders whose livelihoods depend completely on raising alpacas (alpaqueros). Pastures have been covered in snow which has frozen over, making grazing impossible. Forced to go without food, perhaps for days at a time, their alpacas have become weak and susceptible to disease, Vandersmissen said.
The situation is such that Peru’s government has declared a state of emergency in 11 of the country’s 25 provinces.
The antiparasitic, antibiotics and vitamins were delivered from 14 to 19 July by FAO experts in collaboration with field technicians from Peru’s National Agricultural Safety Service (Servicio Nacional de Sanidad Agraria) and regional agricultural extension offices. The relief effort was funded by the Government of Belgium.
The treated animals belong to smallholders in high altitude areas who have no source of income other than raising alpacas and sheep.
FAO’s intervention has allowed for the treatment of 50 percent alpacas, llamas and sheep in the communities of Llillinta, Antacancha, Cacuya, Pichcahuasi, Pueblo Nuevo, Ingahuasi y Pelapata in Huancavelica province, benefiting over 200 vulnerable families.
The UN agency is warning that there is danger of increased livestock sickness and mortality in September in the high Andes of central and southern Peru where alpacas production depends on natural pastures that have been extremely affected by the friaje.
FAO is carrying out a field evaluation of the situation in the five most affected provinces and is asking donors for emergency funds in order to prevent additional damages to the livelihoods of Peru’s high-altitude alpaqueros.
FAO Press Office
(+39) 06 570 53625
e-mail this article