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Bolivia Enacts Law to Stockpile Grains, Achieve Food Sovereignty

June 26 (Bloomberg) -- Bolivia President Evo Morales will today sign a new law designed to move the Andean nation toward food sovereignty by spurring small scale agriculture and the stockpiling of key grains, according to state news agency ABI.

The initiative requires a $500 million a year investment over the course of 10 years, said Congressman Luis Alfaro, according to information released by Bolivia’s congress last week.

The government will form a state seed bank to store and sort native Bolivian plants, channel credits to community producers, and define standards for importing, producing and trading genetically modified products. A silo system for stockpiling grains such as corn will also be developed.

The law also includes plans for investment in mechanized agriculture and increased irrigation systems in Bolivia, where drought often damages crops.

The law’s focus on communities and individual producers has prompted some criticism. “The law does not consider the small, medium and large agricultural businesses who are the principal producers in the country,” said La Paz-based research company Fundacion Milenio in a document released June 20.

Protests over rising food prices and sugar shortages spread throughout Bolivia in February, prompting the government to import sugar to meet internal demand. Annual inflation was 11.2 percent in June, according to the national statistics agency.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sara Shahriari in La Paz at sshahriari@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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