ABSTRACT

Economists generally attribute ‘the backwardness’ of campesino farming in highland Bolivia to ‘primitive technology’, the lack of mechanization, low levels of investment and an inadequate infrastructure. A. Garcia blamed the peasant syndicates for the failure of Bolivian cooperatives: the ‘subordination’ of the cooperatives to rural syndicates ‘not only diverted them from their own ends, but also stifled their autonomy and closed the road to a new entrepreneurial economy’. As elsewhere in Latin America, Bolivian syndicates were essentially political and not ‘created to serve economic functions such as joint efforts directed at obtaining credit, marketing products, or purchasing inputs and supplies’. The organization is one of few in Bolivia advocating the application of appropriate technology and a wide range of farming activities together constituting agrarian reform and promoting sustainable agriculture. Since 1984 the university’s faculty of agriculture has managed the Belen research station near Achacachi.