An analysis of Bolivia’s National Agricultural Census 2013

 

Agrarian production and use of supplies

The data presented in the Agricultural Census 2013 reveal that in eight out of the nine departments, with Santa Cruz being the exception, the majority of agricultural production units (APUs) still use local organic seeds; conversely, improved seeds –which are produced through more specialized methods, like controlled pollination– and/or certified seeds are only used by a small proportion of APUs.

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Agrarian production and irrigation

According to the data presented by the Agricultural Census 2013, Bolivia’s agricultural production is mostly rainfed, i.e. it depends on rain and not on irrigation. Actually, only 32,9% (286.536) of the APUs registered in the census employ some kind of irrigation for their crops. The combined area of APUs that do irrigate their crops –268.844 ha– barely accounts for 7,1% of total cultivated land area, which amounted to a little more than 3,7 million hectares in the 2012/2013 agricultural year (See Chart 1).

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Land tenure regimen

Our research on this topic [1] shows that private property in land and private usufruct in land have spread their presence in the countryside, even reaching peasant communities or indigenous territories (TCO/TIOC [2]) holding either long-standing or recent collective property titles.

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Communities and salaried work in agriculture

One of the most relevant characteristics of the National Agricultural Census 2013 is the inclusion of data on salaried work in agriculture, a phenomenon of great importance in all the regions (plateaus, valleys, plains) of the country.

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Some characteristics of agricultural production units (APUs) in charge of women

We have already explained how the agrarian structure of Bolivia has not really changed since the 1980’s; and how, according to the Agricultural Census 2013[1], a small nucleus of APUs is still in control –under ownership or usufruct– of large extensions of land, unlike the majority of APUs, which only hold a small portion of these lands.

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Regional agrarian structure

The Agricultural Census 2013 registered a total of 861.608 agricultural production units (APUs), which –under ownership or usufruct– hold a total of 34.654.983,7 hectares of land. Most of these APUs are located in the plateaus (49,6%) and the valleys (33,3%); however, they only represent 15,7% and 11,9% (respectively) of total number of hectares of land. On the contrary, the plains hold only 17,1% (140.878) of total number of APUs, but concentrate 72,4% of total land area.

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No substantial change in Bolivia’s agrarian structure

The data presented in the Agricultural Census 2013 published by INE (National Institute of Statistics of Bolivia) indicate that the agrarian structure of Bolivia has not substantially changed in the last thirty years. Out of the total number of agricultural production units (APUs), 58,9% (507.243) are in the range of 0,01 to 4,99 hectares in size. These 507.243 APUs –under ownership or usufruct– cover an area of approximately 738.000 hectares, which barely represents 2,1% of total number of hectares of all APUs combined.

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Agricultural production units in charge of women

One of the strongest arguments to demonstrate the current “feminization of agriculture” in Latin America and the Caribbean is the increased percentage of agricultural production units that are in charge of women. This phenomenon is caused by: increased male emigration for longer periods of time; increased male participation in non-agricultural economic activities; or, an increased number of men who desert their families. [1]

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Female participation in agricultural production

Over the last years, it has been said that Latin America has been going through a process of “feminization of agriculture”, a phenomenon caused by an increased participation of women in agricultural activities, whether as non-salaried family workers or independent producers; or, as salaried workers. This tendency is, most likely, not solely based on the increasing number of women taking part in the agricultural sector, but also on the decreasing number of men working in said sector[1].

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Temporariness in agricultural production and off-farm work

Although of great importance, the National Agricultural Census 2013 did not address the situation of permanent and temporary work among salaried agricultural workers; what it did instead, was to address the situation with a focus on the members of agricultural production units: head producers, spouses, offspring and other economically dependent relatives.  

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