Bolivia Table of Contents

Livestock production was active and well diversified. Beef cattle numbered an estimated 6 million head in 1988 and dominated all livestock production. Beef was the preferred meat in Bolivia. Unlike the rest of the agricultural sector, beef output grew over 4 percent a year during the 1980s. Over 70 percent of all cattle were raised in the eastern plains; Beni was responsible for over 40 percent of the national herd. Twenty percent of all cattle were found in the valleys and about 10 percent in the highlands, where they had served as beasts of burden since the Spanish introduced cattle in colonial times. In 1988 Bolivia slaughtered 200,000 tons of cattle and exported 48,000 live cattle to Brazil, as well as processed beef to Chile and Peru. The country's medium and large cattle ranchers were organized into two large producer associations--one in Beni and one in Santa Cruz--that marketed beef and attempted to set domestic prices. Bolivia had the potential to double its beef output in a relatively short period of time.

The number of dairy cattle in Bolivia in the late 1980s was unknown but was well below what the country needed to meet domestic demand. The rate of milk consumption among Bolivians was among the lowest in the world. In 1988 Bolivia consumed 130,000 tons of milk--80,000 tons from its five dairies, 23,000 tons in donations from developed countries, and the rest in contraband, mostly in the form of evaporated milk. Dairy farms were medium to large in size and were concentrated in Cochabamba and Santa Cruz departments. The government was involved heavily in the dairy industry, but it was generally ineffective in improving nutritional levels in dairy products.

Other livestock included chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas, vicuņas, and even buffalo. Chicken production also was centered in Cochabamba and Santa Cruz departments and experienced strong growth in the 1980s. Although the poultry industry faced high feed costs and substantial Chilean contraband, it produced 25 million broilers and 200 million eggs in 1988. The pork industry, also facing high feed costs, remained small. The pig population was estimated at slightly over 1 million, and the annual slaughter was roughly 45,000 tons of pork. Santa Cruz was expected to be the location of the pork industry's future growth. There were an estimated 10 million sheep and 1 million goats in Bolivia, mostly in the highlands, which was also home to 3 million llamas, 350,000 alpacas, and a dwindling number of vicuņas. Appreciated for their fine wool and meat, 11amas, arpacas, and vicunas received government protection because of their declining numbers.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress