Ivan Condori reports for La Razon:
Wheat drops 44% and will only cover a third of the demand
The national production of wheat this year will barely cover the third part of the demand. Anapo reported yesterday that this season, and for the second consecutive year, the cultivation of wheat in Bolivia fell 44% compared to the planting record obtained in 2010.
During this period, the cultivation of wheat went from 120 to 67 thousand hectares (ha), yesterday informed the President of the National Association of producers of oil and wheat (Anapo), Demetrio Perez. Anapo attributed the decline in crops to bad weather, the legal land tenure insecurity and the lack of incentive for the productive sector policies.
This year was cultivated approximately 67 thousand has of wheat, while the production will barely come to cover 30% of the domestic market, said Perez, who made an assessment of the performance of the sector.
According to the statistics that handles Anapo, domestic consumption exceeds the 600 thousand tons (t) of wheat, of which 30% (180 thousand t) will be covered by local production and the 70% (420 thousand t) with imports. “We have always been deficient in the production of wheat, but this figure in the last campaign was expanded considerably,” explained the producer from Santa Cruz.
Import. Last year, the Government already imported 240 thousand t of the cereal because, precisely, that domestic production was insufficient to meet the local demand. “The growth of domestic consumption is not accompanied by the local production, a fact that makes the deficit gap increasingly larger;” “This forces the Government to make use of economic resources for the import of grain to meet demand,” stressed Perez.
For this reason, the President of the Anapo criticized the attitude of the Executive, which blamed the use of economic resources to cover the shortfall through imports of wheat instead of using that money to support local production. “So far, it not perceived a policy of productive development that encourages farmers”, regretted the producer. On the other hand, the national day of wheat, organized by Anapo, will be celebrated today in the town of Okinawa 1, distant 100 km to the North of the city of Santa Cruz.
To the event, it is expected that around 1,500 farmers will attend. The holder of the Anapo confirmed the presence of President Evo Morales. “I’ve spoken personally with him at the last meeting we had, and I invited him to the celebration of the producers.”
The Manager of Anapo, Rolando Zabala, said that in the event, it will be seen the rotation of plots and crops of intercrop and coverage work to improve the quality of the soil, and cover the “bald spots” in productive fields.
The meeting will also feature the participation of around 40 exhibitors who show visitors how to increase the production of wheat, Perez reported. The technical manager of the Anapo, Gilberto Aguanta, recalled the technology to be used in the national day of the wheat is advanced and complete, i.e. apply fertilizers of base and leaf for good management of the cereal. Santa Cruz is the largest producer of wheat.
The climate affected the harvest
Last year, Pailón, Cuatro Canadas and San Julián, areas considered producers of wheat in Santa Cruz, abandoned growing this grain because of the lack of rain in the planting season. Santa Cruz is the largest producer of cereal at the national level.
On July 27, 2011, this media reported that the area planted in the winter of this year’s campaign fell from 120 to 70 thousand hectares. I.e. There was a fall of 42 per cent compared to 2010 as a result of the drought in the growing season.
I hope the price of flour and wheat products do not start to rise as a result of this news. Bolivia has a quick and aggressive informal economy, unfortunately they do not only avoid paying taxes and are a source of street chaos in all our cities; but also speculate with pricing, and profit with smuggling. All to the expense of Bolivian family incomes.
Long gone are the days when the USA government through PL-480 wheat donations did not only supply the local market, but the funds from the sell of that wheat supported many infrastructure work around Bolivia. USAID funded a lot of projects but also required counterpart funding, had PL-480 weren’t in place, which was also another kind of grant, very few projects would have been implemented in Bolivia. In short, the USA gave grants twice, direct funding for projects and indirectly by the monetization of the donated wheat.
Current government should seriously consider to boost this productive sector, rather than purchasing through imports. And should refrain from controlling our agricultural exports.
If the current government wants the political votes, they should tackle the legal land tenure insecurity and the lack of incentive for the productive sector policies. That’s a no brainer, right?