According to Civil Defense, drought and pests --such as spider mites, fruit flies or weevils-- are the plagues that cause losses of close to 40% of agricultural production in Bolivia. The recurrence of both events has a direct impact on food security and sovereignty; therefore, it is an anticipated and sustained risk situation that puts in motion different counterpart mechanisms, involving the private sector and development cooperation, in alliance with the different levels of government.
A few days after the conclusion of his ten-year period of service in municipal public management, Rafael Bautista Paucara declared that the enactment of Municipal Law No. 120 on Plant Health is a “dream come true (…) that contributes to the transformation of Chaquí as a Productive Municipality.” As a farmer dedicated to the production of legumes, he emphatically points out that: “every year pests and frost or drought harm us” so during his management he sought the collaboration of reputable entities on the subject, among them, he emphasized PROINPA and ACLO Foundations.
Based on similar experiences in the municipalities of Independencia and Morochata in Cochabamba, in Chaquí, Betanzos and Puna, PROINPA Foundation replicated certain principles of comprehensive pest management that require the participation of almost all productive units at the family level, that is, plot by plot, in a sustained and, above all, measured way in the application of organic and agrochemical inputs; but without losing sight of the local and urban consumer markets. According to Carlos Bejarano, an agronomist at PROINPA with more than 35 years of service, the problem of pests: “(…) is no longer an isolated phenomenon, it is recurrent and it demands of us to adopt measures that, in addition to reducing losses, we also move forward in the adaptation to climate change ”. For Bejarano, with the collaboration of the Inclusive Markets project working in the three municipalities of Potosí, many lessons were learned and documented that could well be used as a management model, where there is a specific municipal counterpart, from which public-private alliances are activated, before adverse weather events occur or pests become resistant.
For Imer Mayta of the National Service of Agricultural Health and Food Safety (SENASAG) in Potosí, the enactment of the Law is a “notable advance for Potosí”, indeed, he declares that they already have concrete contributions for the regulation of the Law, which in his opinion, should be a priority for the new municipal government in Chaquí and in many other municipalities that are affected by pests every year.
The annual budget administered by the municipality of Chaquí for 2021 is around eight million bolivianos. This amount is distributed among 41 communities in education, health, and infrastructure, among others. According to the outgoing Mayor, the article 11 of the Municipal Law of Plant Health of Chaquí is specific: “a fixed annual amount of 1% of the municipal budget is established” (…) “which can be counted on to deal with the problem". The Law encourages small agricultural producers to access information, training and skills for the preventive control of diseases and pests of crops that are of economic importance, at the same time it encourages the participation of the public sector, such as SENASAG, and the private sector, such as agricultural companies that provide low toxicity agricultural inputs. In the regulation of the law, massive technical assistance services in plant health will be included.
The enactment of the Municipal Law of Plant Health in Chaquí is a milestone in the regulatory development advisory processes that Swisscontact has been carrying out in the country. In this regard, Sandra Nistthausz, director of Inclusive Markets project at Swisscontact, said that there is an openness to support other similar bills in other municipalities that require it. In other words, the project will facilitate processes of identification, formulation and advocacy for similar municipal legislation in other municipalities in the country, which, as in the case of Chaquí, seek to institutionalise plant health campaigns - as a sustained plant health strategy - in pursuit of improving productivity and adapting to climate change.