Monday, June 20, 2011

Bolivia considers new law to improve food security

Bolivian government is considering putting more money into making the country more food secure. 25 years ago most of what Bolivia ate was grown within its borders, now they import most of their food. Some features of the law include preserving Bolivia's agricultural diversity and developing its own seeds.

From the Guardian, writer Mattia Cabitza describes the new initiative to make Bolivia food secure.

The president is soon expected to sign the Law of Productive, Communal and Agricultural Revolution. The government says it will invest $500m (£308m) in sustainable policies that guarantee the local and self-sufficient production of high quality food, while preserving and respecting the country's immense biodiversity.

A key part of the proposals in this "food revolution" is Bolivia's intention to produce its own seeds.

"[They] are a major factor in food production," said Carlos Romero, the minister who proposed the draft law. "But in recent years we've seen an increase in their price across the world, because of a rise in oil prices and the monopoly exercised on seeds by a few corporations. That's why we want to create state-owned companies that produce seeds."

Bolivia hasn't been immune to the global volatility of food prices. Earlier this year, for example, it had to import sugar, after shortages led prices to double and sparked protests among consumers. Prices of locally-produced indigenous food, such as quinoa, are also at a record highs: some highland communities have taken to eating rice and pasta instead of their traditional – and more nutritious – crops.

Climate change, price speculation and foreign demand have taken much of the blame, but for Demetrio Pérez, president of Anapo, an association of more than 14,000 wheat, soya and corn producers in the country's fertile eastern plains, consumers are also too reliant on imports.

"We depend too much on Argentina and Brazil," Pérez said. "So what better way to produce our own seeds? If we use the latest technology and have a good harvest, prices can go down and we can convert Bolivia into an exporting country."

No comments: