In an ideal vision of the desirable characteristics of the food transport systems in the rural areas of the Andean countries, a sufficiently extensive road network could be devised that integrates the different productive zones of the region with the intermediation centres and the markets of consumption and that is also organised and managed efficiently so that it has sufficient economic and technical resources to ensure its sustainability over time.
It is also possible to think of means and transport services technically adequate to the production and the conditions of each place and economically accessible to the poorest producers of the region, without constituting cost overruns that reduce the competitiveness of the products. It would also be possible to establish norms and regulations appropriate to the social, economic and technological realities of each zone and in administrative and management instances that ensure the development and sustainability of infrastructure, compliance with standards and road safety.
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Analysis of common interventions for the solution of food transport problems
In all the countries of the Andean region there are experiences of common interventions between the bodies responsible for the land transport sector and other state and private agencies to promote solutions and programs that benefit the development of the regions. However, this is also an issue faced in all countries in the countryside. It is important to develop the best strategy for transportation in rural areas.
It is possible to mention, for example, the investments in construction and improvement of transport infrastructure carried out by the large mining companies in the region. Although these actions are specifically aimed at facilitating access to mines and the extraction of minerals, they also have diverse effects on the agricultural environment in which they are located.
Likewise, state agencies created to generate temporary employment in urban and rural areas have had an important participation in the construction and improvement of rural roads. The status of all penetration roads is also very important.
Indirectly, some non-governmental organisations that work on food support projects also participate in aspects of transport infrastructure, since the food delivery is made under the criterion of “food for work” and this work is usually carried out on construction sites. of communal benefit such as roads.
Coordination and intervention with local governments is also important, both because they tend to increase their responsibilities in the development and maintenance of the road network of their jurisdictions, as well as because they have responsibility in the supervision of food entering and leaving the markets urban areas controlling the movement of trucks. Other types of coordination are also carried out with the police, customs and tax authorities to carry out certain types of traffic controls between one region and another.
However, it is the roads development and improvement programs of the Ministries of Transport that have the greatest impact on food transportation, such as the Rural Roads Program and others. The better the roads are, the more likely it is to reduce transaction costs, markets will be developed, more jobs will be created, local and regional economies will be boosted and the standard of living of the rural population will be increased.
However, the impacts linked to access to public services are less appreciable because, despite the fact that consultations and health care increased significantly, the impacts are not yet evident in the supply and demand of educational services. Regarding access to justice administration units, no changes were observed and although the demand for security increased appreciably, it is difficult to know if this is due to greater access to dependencies or the presence of greater social disturbances.
In terms of productive activities, the impact is low in the aggregate diversity of aspects that it involves. It is possible that, after the maturation period of the works, substantive variations can be detected in these aspects. There is an impact on the prices received by the farmer, which on average were higher than the current prices in the areas of control zones (areas not intervened).
Opportunities of comprehensive solutions for the improvement of food transport systems
There are several opportunities to improve food transportation systems in the Andean regions. The rehabilitation and improvement programs of rural road networks are, at the physical infrastructure level, one of the priorities that must be closely linked to the local and regional economic development plans promoted by the municipalities. The latter must assume roles and responsibilities in transportation matters.
Undoubtedly, food transformation and conservation processes that reduce weight and add value to products, preferably at the production sites themselves, also constitute unbeatable opportunities to reduce transportation costs and to promote social and economic development.
In this field, it highlights the importance of the development and diffusion of appropriate technologies to the socioeconomic conditions of the environment that allow to add value to primary products at reduced costs and improve the profit margins of farmers. In some cases, the processing of the products can triple the profits of the producers, avoiding high levels of food loss through conservation processes, providing added value through the transformation into semifinal or final products, and reducing the cost of transport by decreasing the volumes of the products through processing.
In a broad sense, the development of technology does not only mean the development of machines that facilitate mechanical processes, but also the organization and operation capacities of the producers of the same branch or of the same region. There is undoubtedly a need for technical assistance in this field and this is perhaps an important limitation that must be solved with the support of private enterprise (through equitable articulation), state technical education entities and aid organizations.
The issue of access to basic services such as energy and drinking water are of crucial importance both in terms of satisfying the basic needs of the rural population as well as to guarantee the efficiency and quality of value-added production processes. In both cases there are adequate alternatives to rural conditions such as micro-hydropower and water and sanitation systems for rural communities.
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