The province of Ica has a flourishing business: the cultivation of asparagus for export. Ironically, this region has had a water crisis since 2005 and the green stalks in the middle of the desert raised the suspicions of Fabiola Torres, a journalist and a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), who decided to investigate.
“She suspected that they were violating the province’s rules for water usage and earning millions of dollars exporting Peru’s prized asparagus by depleting scarce water supplies for local families and smaller farmers”, this media wrote.
Nevertheless, her investigation wasn’t very easy, agribusiness properties were walled off when she decided to check out the situation, and no one was willing to talk. Therefore, she decided to launch a drone.
“Soaring a hundred meters above the desert, remotely piloted by Ojo Público reporters, the drone footage that quickly confirmed Torres’ suspicions. It showed the companies’ properties dotted with illegal wells that were extracting subterranean water from beneath the desert, sometimes camouflaged beneath green mats”, ICIJ said.
Her findings revealed that Peruvian authorities, instead of confronting these companies, granted licenses for them to deplete underground water supplies with impunity as Ica struggled with drought.
Currently, according to Torres’ investigation, this situation continues to take place, and the asparagus business is rising, being the United States its main international market “accounting for $420 million US dollars in exports in 2016 and making Peru the world’s leading asparagus exporter”, her investigation concluded.