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Bolivia: Farming Technology
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Economy > Agriculture > Farming Technology


The use of purchased items such as fertilizers, tractors, and irrigation systems remained extremely low in the 1980s because traditional farming methods continued to dominate. Because of their isolation and lack of technical support, Bolivian farmers used less fertilizer, about two kilograms per hectare, than any other country in the Western Hemisphere. Most small farmers used natural fertilizers, such as manure, but even large farms in Santa Cruz found chemical fertilizers (all of which were imported) expensive because of transportation costs. The signing of an accord for a natural gas pipeline with Brazil in 1988, however, improved Bolivia's prospects for manufacturing its own chemical fertilizers. Bolivia's use of tractors, 0.2 per 1,000 hectares, was also the lowest in the Western Hemisphere. Most tractors were used in Santa Cruz. As the lowlands took on a greater role in agriculture, that ratio was expected to improve. By the late 1980s, just about 5 percent of the country's land was irrigated, one-third more than a decade earlier.

Government extension services for farmers remained extremely inadequate in the late 1980s. Only one agricultural agent existed for each 7,000 farming households. The chief research institution for agriculture was the Bolivian Institute for Agricultural Technology (Instituto Boliviano de TecnologĂ­a AgrĂ­cola -- IBTA). Established in the mid-1970s, the IBTA concentrated mainly on new seed varieties for cash crops in the lowlands. The Institute for the Rural Development of the Altiplano (Instituto para el Desarrollo Rural del Altiplano -- IDRA), the Center for Tropical Agricultural Research (Centro de Investigaciones de Agricultura Tropical -- CIAT), and the national universities performed further research.

Data as of December 1989

Last Updated: December 1989

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Bolivia was first published in 1989. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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