AN ANALYSIS OF LAND DISTRIBUTION AND CONCENTRATION IN BOLIVIA

Despite the implementation of Bolivia's land reform in 1953, the agrarian structure continues to have an extreme concentration of land. Furthermore, in the last two decades regional agrarian structure have been aggravated by population pressures and a lack of new technological practices for most small scale farmers and peasants. Public and private institutions and urban residents observe hundreds of landless and near-landless families in the cities searching for jobs. Most end up becoming part of the growing unemployed labor force in the urban sector. The lack of industrialization policies to create job opportunities for the rural population and the explosive population growth in some rural area has contributed to the increasing levels of poverty among Bolivia's peasantry. Since a considerable proportion of the population increase must be absorbed by the agricultural sector, this has had a disadvantageous effect on those who are dependent on agriculture. Meanwhile, biased distribution of land has contributed to a reduction in the size of the land holding of most peasants in the subsistence or traditional sector. Many land holding are becoming smaller, sometimes leading to small scattered strips, while in other areas there is a gradual depletion of soil fertility due to exhaustive methods of production. It is believed that the demographic pressure is increasing so much that farming methods employed are causing environmental deterioration, such as soil exhaustation and erosion, with all the attendant effects on production. This land fragmentation has led to significant decreases in income of most family production units. At the same time, tenure conditions are becoming less favorable for small farmers and peasants, since landowners are placed in a stronger position relative to the peasants. Furthermore, agricultural land prices in the lowlands and new frontiers have been increasing, which makes land more attractive for capitalists to buy as investments. With the difficult access to land, the high population growth rates in some areas, and the extreme concentration of land, Bolivian peasants are unable to make a living on their own and are forced to find employment as farm or urban laborers. As a result, wages have stagnated or even fallen through the years, while unemployment has risen dramatically. While Bolivia has experiences a radical and highly publicized land reform, in the last four decades old inequalities and insecurities are reappearing. The family smallholding system with private ownership has led to intense subdivision and fragmentation of land in the highlands and valleys. Furthermore, yields of most cash crops are low in comparison to other Latin American countries. Research and extension have been practically nonexistent throughout the last two decades. Credit has been highly subsidized and concentrated among large scale enterprises. Substitution of illegal crops (coca leaves) has been increasing due to the lack of labor opportunities and agricultural incentives. Peasants are being pushed off their land in some prominent agricultural areas by large scale farmers, irrespective of the land markets and agrarian laws. Under these conditions, poverty among Bolivia's peasantry continues due to the lack of coordinated development strategies in the agricultural sector. Two of the leading causes of this rural poverty is the lack of access to sufficient land for the peasantry and land distribution patterns that have arisen in the last two decades. Therefore, studies of land concentration, which has a direct relationship with the distribution of wealth in the rural economy, must be a priority in order to develop the sector.


Issue Date:
1991
Publication Type:
Thesis/ Dissertation
PURL Identifier:
http://purl.umn.edu/11003
Total Pages:
165
Series Statement:
Graduate Research Master's Degree Plan B Papers




 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-23

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