Status of Bolivian cotton production, we need to improve fast!

We had great oportunities with Bolivian cotton until we blew it, back in the 70s… since then we go up and down… so unfortunate, so true… however, it is time to take appropriate action, for current gov to issue sound public policies that can give some certainty to private producers, and then step back as sustainable agriculture must remain in the able hands of those producers.

Fernando Ronjas reports for El Deber:


The cultivated area of cotton shrinks by 1,000 hectares

In the last year planted extension fell 3,500 to 4,500 hectares. The BDP will offer a credit line amounting to $700,000 to boost production. Suggest use of transgenic

2013-06-12 08.18.52 amA white robe resembling a carpet of snow, in fact were thousands of cotton buds that covered an area of cultivation. There, in the middle, Ana Quispe, from La Enconada community, distant 28 kilometers east of the capital [Santa Cruz], on the route to Pailón, was about to harvest them.

She was not excited. She attributed her aspirations of collecting ‘juicy’ revenues by this activity crumbled, when she learned that farmers who have plots in La Enconada resolved to reduce the area planted. She said that the effects are felt when collecting payment. “There is little cotton to harvest, revenues are reduced. Now earned, by day, Bs 50 for 100 pounds harvested. In 2012 they paid twice”, said Quispe.

That – reduced surface – was corroborated by Juan Campero, head of the cotton producers Federation (Fedepa). He explained that in the last year cultivated extension fell from 4,500 to 3,500 hectares (1,000 has), mainly due to the drought in the productive areas (Cotoca, Pailón, Basilio, Zanja Honda, Cabezas and Charagua) and international prices which, during the same period, fell from $150 to $83 per quintal.

Campero said that the harvest that began three weeks ago projected to pick up some 52,500 quintals, 15,000 less than in 2012. He added that the lack of capital slows the growth of the cotton sector. Of the productive chain depend on 180 farmers and 5,000 collectors [zafreros].

In this context, in Fedepa indicated they are having negotiations with the Bank of Productive Development (BDP), a line of credit to finance some 5,000 hectares. The projection is to increase the agricultural frontier to 10,000 hectares. The credit will benefit about 500 small producers and the totality of the production will go to the domestic market.

Although figures differ, the BDP indicated that they will open a program that includes an initial loan portfolio, valued at $700,000 to fund the planting of 2,500 hectares of cotton for the 2013-2014 campaign. The plan contemplates benefiting 130 producers that will deliver production to the national public strategic textile company (Enatex). [mistake! why rely on state-owned enterprises? ALL, yes all state-owned companies created under current government have shown failures, most have not even worked a single day! why would this be any different? When current central government vented its disgust against the USA, expelled Amabassador, DEA, USAID and NAS left, the ATPDEA was closed to the Bolivian textile industry, many entrepreneurs have migrated as they did when another socialist government was in power in the 60s. Cotton production has proven to have potential in Bolivia, we do not need to have this type of pointless gov’s intervention!]

Access to technology

For the former President of the sector, José Luis Landívar, the veto on the use of transgenic seeds, the complex export logistics and low current prices on the international market end up complicating the production.

Landivar believes that these factors can discourage production and remove competitiveness to the country. In Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay cotton is produced with transgenic.

To know

Production cycle

Cotton is produced once a year. Between sowing and harvest cycle is between five and six months. Concerning the plague of weevil, is being controlled and that it does not affect crops.

Harvest season

Workmanship is used, for which an average of Bs50 is paid per quintal to pick cotton.

Importation of fiber

According to the Bolivian Institute of Foreign Commerce (IBCE), with data from INE, in 2012 the country imported 356.451 kilograms of cotton fiber for a value of $740,853 dollars. [we can produce and instead we import…]

National market

According to Fedepa, there are 3,500 hectares. To cover domestic demand, it is  required 20,000 has. 15 quintals are harvested per hectare.


To produce a hectare in Bolivia requires $500. It is estimated that this year, in the world, there are more than 160 million of has with genetically modified seed.

Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

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