Bolivia in Deficit of 300,000 Tons of Corn


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The production of Corn in Bolivia has a fundamental value, as it is one of the main ingredients in animal nutrition and human consumption. Bolivia is considered a center of diversity of ancestral native Corn. The varieties present in this country are part of the agri-food heritage of the villages and the phytogenetic heritage of Bolivia since they have shown qualities of adaptation to the country’s climatic variability throughout history. To preserve this native resource, actions for the gradual elimination of crops of genetically modified organisms are promoted.

Santa Cruz is the department with the highest Corn production, mainly corresponding to hard grain for animal feed, and its production occupies 50.3%. Cochabamba represents the primary producer of white Corn for human consumption, and it also has the most excellent genetic variety, followed by Chuquisaca and Tarija. Other Corn production areas correspond to Potosí, La Paz, Beni, and Pando, but with lower percentages.

Santa Cruz generates more than 2.5 million tons of food products each year. As a productive basin, it is divided into five cultivation zones: central integrated, north integrated, east expansion, south-mountain range, and valleys of Santa Cruz.

The climatic variability of this department determines specific sowing dates that divide the production in the summer campaign between November to March, where the climatic conditions can become more benevolent, improving the yields; and the winter campaign that does not have Corn cultivation as strong, but registers an important area planted with sorghum, sunflower, and wheat among others.

As for the winter agricultural cycle, the 2022/2023 season presents unfavorable conditions, giving a dry environment and frequent irruptions of polar air, causing intense frosts up to the tropics. The climatic variation, the contamination of species, and the attack of the fungus Fusarium cause significant production losses. Regarding mycoses, this endophytic fungus does not allow nutrients to reach the plant, so it dries up and dies.

The INIAF institute in charge of agricultural research, extension, and technical assistance has been working for some time on selecting “half-siblings” of 250 varieties of white Corn to obtain a disease-tolerant seed.

In Bolivia, Corn is subjected to two industrialization processes. Dry milling: which consists of grain size reduction, moisture loss, sifting, and classification of its fractions for different products and uses (breakfast cereals, flours, semolina). Wet milling: where the grain is subjected to a maceration process that facilitates the separation of the essential components starch, Corn oil, gluten for consumption, and gluten ingredient. It is used to obtain sweetening products, syrups, gluten meal, and gluten feed.

Bolivian Corn Production

The most tremendous demand for Corn is given by poultry farming, followed by pig production, livestock, and human consumption. According to data from the Association of Corn and Sorghum Producers (PROMASOR), the national demand is 1.3 million tons, showing an annual deficit of 300,000 tons. For the 2022 campaign, the loss of some 400,000 tons is estimated due to climatic factors.

Since crop year 2011/12, Corn production in Bolivia has oscillated annually, averaging approximately 1 million tons per year. In the latest reported year, production added up to 987.5 thousand tons in 2018/2019, a decrease of almost 22 percent compared to the previous year. This result was observed despite a 1.3 percent increase in the area cultivated with Corn. A record year for Corn harvest was 2017/2018, with 1.3 million tons. 

In 2020, Bolivia imported Corn worth $10.2 million, becoming the world’s 110th most significant importer of Corn. Bolivia imports Corn primarily from: Argentina ($8.8 million), the United States ($949k), Brazil ($260k), Chile ($163k), and Peru ($13.4k).


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