BUILDING COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS IN THE PERUVIAN ANDES
Mining is an important source of local employment and economic growth in the Peruvian Andes. However, the geographic isolation and high elevation of the region limit sustainable economic development opportunities for communities. To help diversify and expand the local economy of the community of Santa Rosa, Laguna Carhualaca, District of Caylloma, located 15 kilometers from the Caylloma Mine, Fortuna Silver worked alongside local residents and government institutions to help build, finance and operate a commercial-scale trout farm.
Residents of high Andean communities have farmed trout using artisanal methods since the 1930's, populating lagoons and other water sources near their farms with fish for local consumption. More recently, demand in Peru for freshwater fish has grown, with significant demand from Peruvian regional markets. Unfortunately, traditional trout farming methods are not well suited to meet this demand and market access can be difficult for local producers.
As part of its community development activities, Fortuna Silver offered to support local farmers and residents of the community of Santa Rosa in building and operating a commercial trout farm in the Carhualaca Lagoon. The lagoon lies within the Apurímac River basin at an altitude of about 4,800 metres and offers healthy conditions for farming Rainbow trout.
The trout farm project, however, needed funding, technical assistance and strategic partners to assure its sustainability. In 2012 Fortuna agreed to contribute two-thirds of the project's initial start-up costs and provide staff to direct technical aspects of construction.
In the meantime, 35 producers and their families that hold land surrounding Carhualaca Lagoon and neighbouring areas organized into a cooperative, Special Production Cooperative Aquaculture Caylloma Andes (COPROANDES), to operate the trout farm. As the lagoon was already used by neighbouring communities as a water source for natural livestock pastures, Fortuna and COPROANDES committed to respect and preserve this valuable resource and the local environment.
Although familiar with freshwater fish farming, members of the cooperative needed training in large-scale production methods and assistance gaining market access. On behalf of COPRANDES, Fortuna approached Sierra Exportadora, a Peruvian government agency that develops and fosters sustainable economic activities in the Andes. Sierra Exportadora agreed to provide the necessary training and technical assistance on the strength of a five-year plan for annual production of up to 50 tonnes of high-quality trout. The agency also secured a distribution agreement with two supermarket chains serving regional markets. Additionally, Fortuna helped establish a local market with Aramark, the food service dealer that provides catering services to the Caylloma Mine.
With local support and financing in place, COPRANDES seeded the first production module in September 2012. In June 2013 the cooperative harvested 2,000 kilos of Rainbow trout.
Based on the initial success of the project, a second production module was added in August 2013. With two production modules in operation, the aquaculture project is expected to produce a total of 35 tonnes of trout in 2014 from three harvest campaigns.
Production is expected to reach 45 to 50 tonnes per year by 2015.
The aquaculture project is providing new jobs and is helping improve the standard of living for local residents, especially the nutritional quality of diets of Caylloma's children and youths. The trout is sold to residents and provides an additional source of protein in the local diet.