There are 5.5 million hectares available for growing food, of which almost three million are occupied. The government seeks to strengthen food security and sovereignty in the short term and proposes to produce 20 million tons of food each year using four million hectares of crops in the country.
The information was announced by the Deputy Minister of Rural and Agricultural Development, Víctor Hugo Vásquez, who stated that 5.5 million hectares of crops are currently available, of which about three million hectares are occupied with an estimated production of 14 million tons of food.
“Our goal is to increase production crops from the three million hectares we currently have to four million,” Vásquez said in a statement to Cambio.
This increase in hectares under crops does not imply indiscriminate felling of forests, because 5.5 million hectares of agricultural land have been developed in the country, most of which are in the east, he stated.
According to data from the Ministry of Rural Development and Land, the hectares of crops have gradually and steadily increased.
In the management of agriculture in 2002-2003. Between 2003 and 2004, an area of 2.1 million hectares was cultivated. increased to 2.3 million, while in 2004-2005 increased to 2.5 million, while during 2006-2007 increased to 2.7 million and between 2010-2011 it rose to 2.9 million hectares.
“If we manage to cultivate four million agricultural hectares, we can easily produce more than twenty million tons of all kinds of food, and this should be the goal of all sectors,” emphasized Vásquez.
According to the deputy minister, last year 12 million tons of food were produced in all products.
For the current administration, the production of 14 million tons of all foodstuffs is expected.
Among the main causes of the increase in food production, he cited a favorable weather season with timely rains, an increase in the yield of productive crops compared to the previous agricultural calendar, and a constant increase in public and private sector investments.
“The corn yield increased by two tons, and in some cases it reached six tons of corn per hectare,” said the administration.
Vásquez explained that there are two types of production in Bolivia: on the one hand, there is production in the east with the agricultural industry, and on the other hand, that of small and medium-sized producers concentrated in the valleys and highlands. The difference is that small and medium-sized companies produce for consumption and placement on the domestic market. In contrast to this phenomenon, agribusiness is 70% concentrated in Santa Cruz, of which 80% is for export and only 20% for domestic consumption.
Another decisive factor for encouraging food production is a fair price, which should benefit both small producers and end consumers on the domestic market.
“Throughout history, the small producer has always subsidized the state because this sector has always lost by selling its products, that is, it has marketed its goods below its operating costs,” the administration states.
These economic losses caused a large migration of small producers during the 70s and 80s, when they went to Spain, Argentina, Europe and other countries to work as bricklayers and other jobs they could find.
“It is better to work as a mason in the city because it ensures profit than to continue producing in the countryside. That’s not right, that’s why we have to talk about a fair price, guarantee their profit so that they can continue to produce and that there is no shortage of food,” he pointed out.
In this context, he pointed out that the figure is gradually changing because in the conditions of the food crisis that is happening in the world, most small producers are returning to their farms in order to devote themselves to food production, even in some cases combining their economic activity in the urban area, while planting and harvesting are moved to their lands.
One of the mechanisms for securing the market for small producers is directed through school breakfast, state purchase, with the aim of strengthening local markets.
He stated that school breakfast has become a potential local market that can benefit a large number of small producers.
Just for the school breakfast, if one liter of milk is consumed per week, for 1.8 million students from the first to the sixth grade, we need 44 million liters of milk for ten months of the school year, the administration pointed out.