Over the past 10 years, the Bolivian economy has posted steady growth, mainly due to public investment in health, education, productive infrastructure in rural areas, social security and remittances from abroad. In general, the standard of living has improved; however, rural populations, representing still 32,51 per cent of the total population, are not fully benefitting from Bolivia’s economic development.
As a result, rural poverty continues to be severe, with 53,9 per cent still living in moderate poverty and 33,4 per cent in extreme poverty according to National Statistics Institute data.Rural people face a number of challenges. High levels of migration from rural to urban areas, particularly among men and young people, leaving heavier workloads for women and older adults. Additionally, these remaining rural populations face difficulties, in terms of access to land, especially for women and young people, reduced productivity, fragmented land tenure and the effects of climate change, further increasing vulnerability.
Although smallholder producers provide 70 per cent of the population’s food needs, recent studies show that increased industrial farming is threatening the sustainability of family farming. Food production for national consumption is still very important, but it is rapidly losing ground to imported foods due to its inefficiencies and low competitiveness.
Rural development also faces major environmental challenges as a result of pressures on natural resources, deforestation as a result of the expanding agricultural frontier, deteriorating soils and water contamination.
In Bolivia, IFAD loans support strong pro-family farming policies and programmes that aim to ensure national food security and inclusive, sustainable rural transformation.
Activities target disadvantaged groups such as women, youth and indigenous peoples.
IFAD, in partnership with the Government of Bolivia, designs programmes that focus on strengthening the capacities of rural organizations to assist smallholder farmers in developing profitable rural businesses and the development of tools and strategies to help cope with the challenges posed by climate change.
Key activities include:
- developing the technical and business skills of rural organizations;
- introducing technological innovations to add value to agricultural products by improving their quality and helping smallholder producers to be more competitive; and
- facilitating the development of public-private partnerships that help smallholder producers to gain access to markets.
- In response to the environmental challenges that severely impact the country’s rural areas, IFAD projects build capacities of local and communal authorities to better plan and invest in resilience. IFAD also promotes the use of traditional and local knowledge, as well as innovative practices, to foster sustainable management of natural resources.
- Poverty declined nationwide from about 59,6 per cent in 2005 to 34,6 per cent in 2018, whereas extreme poverty diminished from 36,7 per cent to 15,2 in the same period.In the rural areas 53,9 per cent lives in poverty and 33,4 per cent in extreme poverty.Bolivian smallholder producers provide 70 per cent of the population’s food needs, but agricultural productivity is not responding to the needs of the growing population.
- Food security and sustainable agricultural practices are relevant for the country as 16% of its children suffer chronicmalnutrition. Since 1979, IFAD has invested a total of US$185 million in 15 programmes and projects related to agricultural development in Bolivia, benefiting more than 290,000 households.