Bolivian Corn Producers Lose $400 Million Annually 


Jul 18, 2023 | Agricultural Markets News

Reading time: 2 minutes

“Today, the yield of Corn production in Bolivia is in the order of 3 tons per hectare (ha), and with the use of biotechnology, a production of 6 tons/ha can be achieved” This is one of the main conclusions of the study presented by the faculties of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary and Zootechnics of the Gabriela René Moreno Autonomous University (UAGRM).

The report on using genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in crops in Bolivia, mainly Corn, compared the production of four neighboring countries (Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay) where this biotechnology is applied. “With the estimated averages in these four countries, we can reach a 6 tons/ha yield. Even reaching 8 or 9 hectares like in the United States or Uruguay itself,” said José Luis Llanos, dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences.

The report also indicates that Bolivian Corn producers lose approximately $400 million annually by increasing their costs by using more pesticides for their crops and by obtaining a lower yield per hectare (ha), a negative impact that would be eliminated with the use of biotechnology.

One of the study’s recommendations is to work on a bill for transgenics. “Article 409 of the Political Constitution of the State establishes that transgenics are not prohibited but will be regulated by Law. Bolivia is one of the few countries that does not have a law on biotechnology, and this is the right time to do so,” he said.

Oscar Mario Justiniano, president of the Eastern Agricultural Chamber (CAO), indicated that with the tools that biotechnology offers to the producer, Bolivia could make a qualitative leap and project itself not only to the domestic market but to the world. “We can become a major player in food production,” he said.

Producers argue that Bolivia could triple its annual grain production to 12 million tons. In 2021, Decree 4490 of President Luis Arce rendered invalid a law that the transitory government of Jeanine Áñez approved in 2020 amid a pandemic, the same one that authorized studies on the viability of various transgenic crops in products such as Corn, sugar cane, wheat, cotton and soybeans that are destined both to supply domestic consumption and for export.

Approximately two-thirds of the world’s Corn production goes to animal feed. Most are harvested as mature grain for feed use, with yields as high as 10 t/ha in some countries. Grains and forage Corn constitute one of the most important energy sources for livestock feed, providing more oil than wheat and barley but less protein than other cereals. Corn is an important food source in many parts of the world. Globally, 116 million tons of Corn is used for human consumption. Of them, 30% is in Africa, and 21% is in sub-Saharan Africa. Corn constitutes between 15 to 20% of daily caloric intake in the diets of more than 20 countries.

Corn Trade in Bolivia

In 2021, Bolivia exported Corn worth $17.4 million, making it the world’s 48th largest exporter of Corn. In the same year, Corn was Bolivia’s 34th most shipped product. The leading destination of Corn exports from Bolivia is Peru ($7.01 million), Chile ($3.93 million), Paraguay ($2.39 million), Ecuador ($2.32 million), and Colombia ($971k). The fastest-growing export markets for Corn in Bolivia between 2020 and 2021 were Peru ($5.24M), Chile ($3.92M), and Paraguay ($2.39M).

In 2021, Bolivia imported Corn worth $7.61 million, becoming the world’s 122nd largest importer of Corn. In the same year, Corn was Bolivia’s 204th most imported product. Bolivia imports Corn primarily from: Argentina ($4.89 million), Chile ($1.5 million), the United States ($673k), Brazil ($384k), and Thailand ($149k).

Other sources: ECONOMY

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