Maca (Lepidium meyenii), the famous Andean root known for its healing and potent properties is sold at exorbitant rates outside Peru. Thousands of tons of this precious maca were smuggled out of Peru recently, according to “Cuarto Poder”, an America Television program.
Chinese businessmen, disguised as tourists, purchased more than 2,000 tons of this year’s 4,500 ton maca harvest in Peru. All this maca was transported to Bolivia on trucks, from where it could be smuggled elsewhere. The Chinese pay a significantly larger amount of money to maca growers than Peruvian companies do, which enables the smuggling to take place.
A 2003 regulation bans the export of maca in its raw form outside Peru. Maca is part of Peru’s heritage and the government probably needs to do more to protect not only the root but also the growers themselves, who will eventually lose out in the long term, while it may pay off well for them in the short term. One just needs to wait and watch what is going to happen to maca cultivations in Peru.
Maca is frequently used as a libido booster and is known to have a modulating effect on human sexual health. Peru could probably invest more in setting up of R&D facilities within the nation, so that maca products can be patented and sold for a better price abroad. That will help to avoid instances of large scale smuggling such as the one that took place recently.