Bolivian lowlands environment in peril

This cartoon appeared in El Dia, December 19, 2011. It says: “Happiness: Is the forest to destroy and plant single crops” and you see in the right side, an illegal coca grower planting the source for cocaine, crime and drug addiction. On the left side you have a private agriculturalists planting a single crop, could be soy, sunflower, etc.

The cartoon shows that both are damaging to the environment. Back in the 1980s there were studies on the lowlands and the World Bank and USAID pushed projects to make an incentive over large-scale agricultural production. By the 1990s the agricultural frontier in the lowlands of Santa Cruz were compared to the rich agricultural soils of the American midwest.

Well, there is now sufficient agricultural research evidence that says our lowlands are not the midwest, our soil is good for agroforestry management, not single crops. Unless, there are sufficient wind breaks, no planting near river sides and crops are shifted from time to time. All of the above can be done and still our lowlands can be sustainable. But, for that to happen, the agricultural entrepreneur must be aware of the dangers to lose it all, and forever to erosion and land depleted soils.

As for the coca growers, it is sufficient to go to Los Yungas in La Paz and witness how this horrible crop deplete the soil. No wonder coca yields three harvests per year, but to a great damage to the soil, there is nothing about “sacred” from this crop. Incas used it to subdue their vassals. The same way later on the coca chewing was used with miner workers and people in general who feel no hunger, nor do they appear tired by long hours of labor work. This crop should be stopped once and for all. No more debate here, not only drug addiction hits the household of overseas families but also locally.

In sum, legal agriculture practices must be able to adopt agroforestry sustainable development practices and coca crop must not be allowed to grow.

Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

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