Friday, July 4, 2008

Soy Boliviano

"The rise of this agribusiness complex has plundered the natural resources of eastern Bolivia. As the frontier for soybeans advances further into the rainforests, the older depleted lands are either abandoned or turned into extensive cattle grazing pastures. Given the highly mechanized nature of soy farming, there are few employment opportunities in the countryside for either the local indigenous population or for those who migrate from the Andes searching for work. As Miguel Urioste, the director of the Land Foundation in La Paz, explains: "This mono export model -- promoted actively by the World Bank for 15 years -- is a lamentable demonstration of how, those that decide public policies . . . in the third world, do not take into account the enormous environmental costs or the lamentable economic and political effects produced by this model. The monocultivation of soy has concentrated land in a few hands, it has transnationalized property rights, it has impeded new humanely planned settlements, and concentrated thousands of poor peasants without lands to generate wealth, employment and well being."5

While Bolivia ranks among the world's ten top soy exporters, the production of domestic foodstuffs by the peasantry has stagnated or declined and the urban population has come to rely more and more on imported grains. Today Bolivia imports sixty-nine percent of its wheat, forty-five percent of its rice, and forty-two percent of its corn.6 In 2004, even the World Bank was compelled to admit: "the rural economy is increasingly polarised between the small peasant sector producing foodstuffs, on the one hand, and the agro-enterprise sector producing cash crops for export, on the other.""(Thanks Daniel)

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