Bolivia to grow its own seeds to protect food systems and the environment

Seeds held in a pair of handsContinuing its quest to become a world leader in equitable and secure food systems, Bolivia has announced that it will begin producing its own seeds.

The government plans to invest more than £300 million a year for the next decade to ensure that the South American country becomes self-sufficient when it comes to feeding its own people.

Seed production is controlled by a handful of large corporations, which exert a stranglehold over the countries that depend on their products. Prices have rocketed in recent years as a result of market volatility, leaving many nations struggling to afford seeds and dependent on imports.

The Law of Productive, Communal and Agricultural Revolution, which is expected to be signed soon by Bolivian president Evo Morales, is aimed at protecting local farmers from the vagaries of the global food market, as well as protecting the environment.

The minister who proposed the law, Carlos Romero, said seeds were a major factor in Bolivia determining its own future.

“But in recent years we’ve seen an increase in their price across the world, because of a rise in oil prices and the monopoly exercised on seeds by a few corporations. That’s why we want to create state-owned companies that produce seeds.”

“Bolivia is creating the conditions to strengthen small producers who are the most vulnerable and affected by the isolation of where many of them live and by climate change,” said Elisa Panadés, Bolivia’s representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. “They cannot compete fairly in local, regional or global markets, because of poor road conditions and lack of access to seeds and fertilisers.”

Read Mattia Cabitza’s blog on Bolivia’s move towards self-sufficiency.