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Who didn't move my cheese?
Although goat cattle predominates in Piura Coast, it does not consolidate a market for competing beyond its boundaries yet.

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The chapel in Cañas, the town amid the dry forest in Marcavelica (Peru), where there is a fair dedicated to goats, which samples we are going to see along this story.
All photos by William Curay, provided to FACTORTIERRA.NET

MARCAVELICA, Peru - Taking advantage of September 24th Piura's holiday, in Cañas Village an habit has been started during the last six years: having a fair dedicated to goat cattle. It is about  one of the three towns benefit with projects to generate productive chains around the milk of those animals brought by the Spaniards in 16th century, those found a pretty good environment at lowlands here.

Cañas is about 25 km or 15,5 miles to the north of Mallares Town, what is 13 km or 8,8 miles to the northwest of Sullana City.  The road is easily accessible as light as it rains.

In Peru, approximately 210000 families work and depend on growing goats. The majority of those little growers have unsatisfied basic needs. In Piura case, the majority lives at Equatorial Dry Forest, a coastal ecosystem  characterized by surviving from underwater when rains stop to fall.

Between 2012 and 2015, only 12% of this cattle was used to produce milk, according to Regional Government of Piura, contributing with 76500 liters mainly directed to make cheese. The remaining 88%  was used to obtain meat.

During that same lapse, it was assured that Piura Region got the first place growing that type of cattle across Peru.  "As cows predominate in Cajamarca, goats predominate in Piura," Marcavelica District Municipality's Councellor Darwing Chunga, a zootechnician too, commented to FACTORTIERRA.NET.

"The goat's milk contains a high level of protein (20,3%) low level of fat (7,8%), and minerals (0,8%),"  Agriculture Authority of Piura highlighted, as projected in 2015 around 281880 cattle heads, Andina official news agency reported.

In 2014 and according to Peru's Agrarian Census, there were 256860 cattle heads. In 2012 there were 425955 cattle heads as  annual production, that superated 2011 in more than 14000 cattle heads.

Sullana Province has the major goats population  inside Piura.  Around 87000 cattle heads were estimated in 2015, and 102794 cattle heads in 2012, mainly located in Lancones District. Although sources did not specify a number, they assure Morropón Province has got the second place, and Chulucanas District particularily - growing is concentrated at Ignacio Távara Pasapera Farmer Community.

Adding Value
The goat's cheese offers as a comparative advantage much protein than cow's  and a similar composition to human milk, what theoretically avoids allergic reactions or intolerance, plus its potasium low content is favorable for people with kidney conditions, but it is not recommended for children and teenagers because they are growing up, not keeping fit. Additionally, it is saturated fat low quantitty and its digestion is much better.

The Piura's Programme For Supporting  Competitive Productivity (ProCompite) has been working business plans in both provinces as well as Piura and Talara ones. In the last one, it was looked for improving genetically the cattle of a growers association in La Brea Disctrict to obtain milk directed to make cheese. Also they were implemented with a processing mini plant, empowered their business skills, signed up for sanitarian registration to enter to markets in Piura, sullana, and Talara, that included labels,then Investment Promotion's Regional Deputy Manager Mario Arellano told.

Regional Government of Piura assures that they attended projects in San Juan de Bigote and Morropón (Morropón) and Cura Mori (Piura) Districts as well.

In 2016, Sierra exportadora Programme has trained growers in Marcavelica (Sullana) and Paimas (Ayabaca) Districts with a clear inttention: Piura to produce goat's cheese, at least two months of maduration, with possibilities to penetrate in Peru's capital city, Lima, and perhaps addressed to exportation.

Even when Marcavelica and Paimas have agricultural zones because of Chira and Quiroz Rivers respectively, they also have large dry forest areas where there is no irrigation and  there are settled population disperse or in little towns.

Those persons work in agriculture as much as it rains in ssummer and grow minor cattle, goats, mainly, those became part of the rural postcards next to carobs and almost-useless donkeys.

Their problem was the growing only allowed them to survive as much as they sell meat or milk so limited, cheese eventually, and there is where government programmes try to empower skills and implementing them primarily.

Could they make competence?
"They are advised in wearing adequate dressing to assure safety of the product, also to have an adequate display that eases their penetration in national market," National Programme of Matured Cheese's Chief Hugo Valdez Osorio stated. He argued that if goat's cheese productivity in Piura and Tumbes is developed and increased, then production could cover the goat's cheese demand of Lima, reducing importation.

1 kg or 2,2 pounds of goat's cheese obtained in Sullana costs around three U.S. dollars, while the same kilo of goat cheese imported from France costs 30 times more expensive. Paradoxically since 2013, Peru's Ministry of Agriculture tries to increase milk demand inside the country, shocked down in mid-2017 after claims  of some industrialized products were not animal-based but soja juice basically.

Peru does not export goat's cheese, however consumption levels seem to be  attractive across the Atlantic. Cheese consuming in Spain is generally over  7 kg or 15,4 lbs per capita in a year. In Europe, leader consuming countries are Greece, France, and Netherlands, those reach in average 30 kg or 66 lbs per capita in a year, Sierra Exportadora reported.

Other Ways
But the experience of this government programme is not the first one. After signing the Peru-Ecuador Peace Agreement in 1998, some non-profit private organizations received funds to stimulate the competitivity  of cattle communities along Piura.

Care Peru developed this programme with goat growers in Suyo (Ayabaca) and Lancones (Sullana) Districts. In the first case, they worked wwith some towns along Pan-American Highway between Las Lomas and the detour to Ayabaca, in the second case they worked mainly with Cabrería Town.

Both districts produced blanc-mange and custard (natilla), a typical Made-In-Piura candy. Suyo gave up in favor of illegal mining and discontinued the production, while Cabrería survived as it could and it is now one of the mandatory atractives in Cañas' fair.

And the fair looks for keeping open the commerce channels with the largest markets in Piura Coast. There is much enthusiasm, efforts to generate associativity, but the promotion is reduced only to  explore some stores  and punctual recommendations of some consumers.

And what comes up once the fair ends?

Facing a very promising possibility for Piura, marketing plans have to be reviewed from growers associations, and beginning to release them from government support for they to learn  how to promote and compete. Are the growers ready to walk their way like their agile goats?

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