In late March, the European Union made €5 million available from an EU budget support programme for family farming and food sovereignty. This timely disbursement helped support the Government’s efforts to improve food security concerns as part of the national Covid-19 pandemic crisis response. Part of the EU’s broader efforts to support Bolivia in fighting the drugs trade and achieving comprehensive development, the programme feeds into a national strategy to help communities whose inhabitants are tempted to migrate away to coca-leaf production areas.
The strategy’s main aim is to improve food security and nutrition conditions for families in 35 communities where migration like this happens. It pursues that aim in three ways. First, it helps boost the productive capacity of small-scale farmers and give them greater access to markets to sell their produce. Second, it looks at ways of promoting climate change adaptation among local communities. Third, it encourages the consumption of highly nutritional food to improve nutrition levels. On top of all this, a general principle underpinning the programme is to give women more opportunities to take part in productive initiatives and take on leadership roles.
The impressive results achieved with help from the EU budget support programme include the introduction of irrigation schemes across some 2 500 hectares, allowing 3 665 families to increase and diversify production. In turn, there has been a 25% increase in overall production of eight agricultural products since 2017; and the number of local markets buying and selling produce in the 35 communities has shot up from only seven in 2017 to 30 today. More than 80 thousand households – four in ten of them female-led – have received land titles. And activities in a number of communities have boosted awareness around climate change issues.
All in all, thanks to its broad scope, the programme contributes to four of the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals in Bolivia: goal 2 (zero hunger); goal 8 (decent work and economic growth); goal 10 (reduced inequalities); and goal 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). It is just one of the programmes that the European Union will continue using as it builds a solid partnership for sustainable development with Bolivia.