Cherries may seem ordinary to people in English speaking lands, but they are not traditionally found in Peru. However, under recent initiatives, Cuzco joins Cajamarca in the Peruvian north to become a global grower and exporter of this tart, red fruit.
Under the national program Peru Berries, in conjunction with Sierra Exportadora, this program is developing new agricultural exports with which Peru can take an important market share in the global market place. The goal is to encourage farmers to grow these products while providing them with the technical training to do so, in hope of substantially improving the income of the large rural sector of Peru.
Peru Berries takes a concept and word that is not indigenous to their Spanish, berries, to develop a national business model that includes up to date cultivation technology and knowledge, care in processing to meet the most rigorous international standards, and the development of international markets, as well as introducing the products into Peru’s array of foods its people eat.
A translation for berries would be “small fruits” or frutillas, but that word is already used for a kind of strawberry and so is not available. As a result they borrowed the English word to not only organize their agriculture, but also to rely on a category already present in the international market.
Traditionally, Peruvians do not consume many berries, although they do have their indigenous ground cherry called aguaymanto which they are exporting under a variety of names since ground cherries are not widely known yet in the global fruit and berry market.
This project has also impelled production of fruit that was not grown in Peru previously such as blueberries for which Peru is already an important exporter. They also are growing raspberries and now cranberries—the iconic New England food that is a sine qua non of American Thanksgiving and a juice loved by health enthusiasts everywhere.
Now they are adding a fruit not traditionally considered a berry in English,e ven though it is small. Instead it is a tree fruit: cherries.
I am writing this note in a region of the United States that used to be one of the most important cherry producing regions in the US though over the last seventy years or so the orchards have perished under urban growth, though climate change has also wrought its negative impact.
As economics, climate, and land use change, producers of the fruit seek new areas, including claiming farms and land in other countries where the fruit is not known to produce it. As a result, cherries are now being grown in the highland valleys of Cusco and elsewhere in Peru and soon will make it to a market near you.