Inspiring Circular Agriculture on the Fifth International Forum for Circular Economy in Peru

The key to achieving a circular economy is collaboration. Collaboration between governments, corporations, multilateral organizations, knowledge institutes and the civil society in order to transform crucial value chains. This became clear throughout the Fifth International Forum on Circular Economy which took place in Lima from the 13th until the 15th of September. The forum was organized on behalf of the Peruvian Ministry of Agricultural Development and Irrigation, the Ministry of Production, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, the Ministry of Environment and the European Union. The main objective of this forum was to stimulate and reinforce collaboration among different stakeholders in their efforts to realize a circular economy.


A circular economy decouples economy activity from resource consumption by transforming production chains and product usage to minimize waste, biodiversity loss, environmental pollution and climate change. The forum presented inspirational  speeches and critical discussions on key topics, such as circular ecosystems in the agri-food sector and regional circular value chains. The Landbouw Attaché Netwerk (LAN) as part of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Peru co-organized an informational session on circular agrifood systems together with Solidaridad, Coalición por una Producción Sostenible (Coalition for a Sustainable Production), Tropical Forest Alliance, the Peruvian Ministry of Agricultural Development and Irrigation (MIDAGRI) and the Peruvian Ministry of Production (PRODUCE). During this session three successful examples of circular agriculture in Peru were shared, followed by a panel discussion. The session was attended by 176 digital participants, in addition to additional digital platforms and the presence of the public in a face to face event.

The first example was provided by the National Fishery Society (SNP). Together with Bureo, they are tackling contamination of the oceans by recycling fishing nets that are left behind. Over the past three years they contributed to the recycling of over 800,000 kilos of fishing nets from the Peruvian sea, which resulted in a financial return of more than a US$ 100,000. The nets are reused in products from companies such as Trek (racing bikes), Jenga (toys) and Patagonia (outdoor wear). Another example comes from the circular production model of the farm El Edén in Arequipa. The farm focuses on breeding small ruminants, such as sheep and goats. The leftover leaves from cactuses, that are used to produce cochineals on the farm, provide nutritious feed for the small ruminants, while their manure is used as an effective fertilizer for the cactuses. In this way, the two production systems reinforce each other in a circular manner leading to cost savings and waste reduction.

Beeld: Peru Sostenible

The third example was provided by ECOBAN, a social enterprise created by Solidaridad, AgroFair and the Organic Banana Cluster in Piura that gathers associations of small banana producers. This initiative have been supported by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). The banana sector in Piura currently represents a value of 150 million dollars in exports, which results in 410 metric tons of plastic waste per year. ECOBAN reuses this plastic waste to produce edge protectors for the transportation of banana boxes in pallets. Currently they are selling the protectors to companies in the banana sector,however they are planning to start selling them to clients outside of the banana sector to generate additional income in the future. This start-up leads to both a circular and a more competitive banana production sector and their efforts were recently awarded by Peru por los ODS (Peru for the SDGs) - 2022 Edition in the MIPYME subcategory.

During the panel discussion experts Luud Clercx (AgroFair), Luis Rosa-Pérez (Helvetas), Carolina Ramírez (MIDAGRI) and Edson Apaza (PRODUCE) indicated the importance of approaching projects as a sector as a whole, instead of operating independently to ensure that successful solutions reach a larger scale. Only in this way complete value chains can be changed into circular production models. This confirmed the value of collaboration. In addition, it is important to recognize the value that is created through the implementation of circular economy. New business opportunities can arise from circular solutions, because they appeal to new customers, lead to waste valorization and use new technologies.

In her closing words Dutch agricultural counsellor for LAN Bogotá, Léontine Crisson, expressed the view that achieving circular agriculture in itself is not the objective, but that it is an instrument towards achieving a sustainable economy. It is a challenge without single answers, which needs solutions that are adapted to local circumstances. Through the collaboration of different actors, agricultural value chains can be transformed from producers until end consumers. To realize this, we need innovation, technologies, and financial instruments. Moreover, sustainable business practices in agriculture will yield both economic and social benefits. Peru as an agricultural leader offers great potential for developing sustainable alternatives.

The counsellor’s final statement was supported by other examples from the agricultural sector provided throughout the forum. Solutions implemented in regional Peruvian value chains focused on farm waste valorization through composting, the use of organic fertilizers in the production of quinoa for the European market, the fermentation of cocoa syrup to liquor and the optimalization of fish production with the use of artificial intelligence. These innovations inspire circular transformation in other businesses along the value chain.

The Dutch contribution to the forum extended beyond the session on agriculture to the speeches of experts such as Joan Prummel (Special Envoy of the Holland Circular Hotspot) and Jan Raes (Global Sustainability Advisor, ABN AMRO Bank). Their speeches underlined once more the importance of international collaboration and knowledge sharing among different stakeholders. They also emphasized the need to develop financial instruments that support the circular transition. To foster collaboration the Peruvian Circular Economy Platform was launched at the Grand Finale of the Forum. This platform offers the opportunity to connect enterprises through the Holland Circular Hotspot and to implement circular economy in Peru starting with key value chains in agriculture.