Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bolivia advancing in the battle against hunger

By Héctor Miranda, Correspondent/La Paz

THE 70 legislators from 20 countries in the region who took part in the 4th Parliamentary Front Forum against hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean returned home convinced that Bolivia is fighting valiantly to erase hunger, one of the ills suffered by its population.

The meeting, which met over two days in the eastern city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, was an opportunity to learn of the President Evo Morales government plans to improve the people’s nutrition, part of a long-term project which does not exclude current action.

In the opening session, attended by Vice President Álvaro García Linera, the importance of giving decision making powers to campesino organizations and small agricultural producers spread across the country was emphasized.

García Linera highlighted the importance of working for food sovereignty, but noted that this requires political decisions, a transformation of the productive system and empowering of the original campesino social organizations in the control of productive processes.

He also spoke of the need to diversify food cultivation after the colonization of Latin America annihilated the scientific knowledge, engineering, biotechnology and astronomy inherited from civilizations with advanced agricultural and water cultures, among them that of the Inca people.

He likewise recalled that capitalism imposed a regime of food economy subject to the free market and profit in Latin America.

When President Evo Morales assumed power in early 2006, four million of Bolivia’s 11 million inhabitants suffered hunger; a figure that has been reduced by half to date, but which does not satisfy those responsible for leading the country and facilitating better living conditions for its people.

The two million persons still experiencing hunger in Bolivia are part of a 30 million total in Latin America, or 1.2 billion in the world, a problem which would seem more and more difficult to solve.

The first steps to turn around the situation took place in 2006 itself and became established over time, with an awareness of the need to obtain food sovereignty, based on the democratization of land and the strengthening of the neglected campesino economy.

The government distributed tractors and other farming implements, together with seeds and fertilizer and directed strong capital investment to foment food production, apart from support received by the large agro-industrial companies.

On the other hand, through the MI Agua (More Investment for Water) programs, now in their third stage, water was delivered to the most remote areas of the country and all communities, not just for drinking, but to increase production and make it possible for cultivators to be assured of harvests without being dependent on capricious rainfall.

President Evo Morales has reiterated on more than one occasion that he knows of campesinos who previously cultivated one product once a year. Now, with the possibilities provided by water, they can produce various harvests.

In 2012, Bolivia also implemented agricultural insurance to protect the finances of small farmers affected by natural disasters, with a compensation of 1,000 bolivianos ($145) per hectare.

All of this is included in the so-called pillars of the 2025 Patriotic Agenda, a strategy directed toward solving vital problems in the country to coincide with the bicentenary of Bolivian independence, the objectives of which were the central issue addressed at the Forum, convened to discuss, exchange experiences and learn about Bolivia’s advances in food security. (Orbe)
September 19, 2013