LIMA, May 2 (Reuters) - Peru's poverty rate fell just under two percentage points to 23.9 percent in 2013 from the prior year, as a slowing economy impeded President Ollanta Humala's goal of halving the country's poverty rate to 15 percent by 2016.
Some 490,000 Peruvians were lifted out of poverty in 2013, the majority in rural areas, the government statistics agency said on Friday. That leaves around 7.3 million poor in the population of nearly 40 million.
When he took office, Humala pledged to cut the poverty rate by the end of his term in July 2016 but a decelerating economy has crimped those plans.
Growth in 2013 was 5.6 percent, compared to 6.3 percent in 2012. Critics also charge that Humala needs to do much more to reach his goal.
Peru, a major producer of copper, gold and silver, has experienced a decade-long economic boom fueled in large part by mining, but millions of poor Peruvians have been left behind.
In the northern province of Cajamarca, rich in mineral resources, the poverty rate is still 52.9 percent, the statistics showed.
Reductions in the poverty rate in rural areas was principally due to the implementation of social programs, said Javier Escobal from the United Nations' economic body for Latin America.
Each percentage point of growth cuts poverty by half a point, added Escobal on Friday.
A former leftist military officer, Humala has promoted foreign investment while emphasizing a series of social programs aimed at helping the poor through cash transfers, support for pensioners, scholarships and school meals. (Reporting by Patricia Velez, Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Diane Craft)