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Cablegate: Usda in Bolivia: Feeding Children, Fortifying

VZCZCXRO7221
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLP #2730/01 2841646
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 111646Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5233
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 7129
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4503
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8400
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5627
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2853
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 3046
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 3609
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 4899
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5491
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0094
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0584
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP
RUEHC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LA PAZ 002730

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

USDA PLEASE PASS TO ERICA BELTRAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PGOV AGR FAO FAS IFAD IICA BL
SUBJECT: USDA IN BOLIVIA: FEEDING CHILDREN, FORTIFYING
LLAMAS, AND FATTENING COWS


-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Since 2005, the United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA) has donated about $7.3 million through
NGOs to Bolivia. One program provides a daily hot meal to
approximately 20%-25% of rural school children in the nation.
The program has helped build school greenhouses, chicken
coups, latrines, and more efficient wood stoves. Other
programs target rural income generation through improvements
in livestock management. Working directly with the current
Bolivian Government however, has not been as fruitful. Of
the over $6 million P.L. 480 funds that have been awaiting
expenditure since 2005 (residual funds from the Title I
program), only $46,000 have been dispersed. End Summary.

----------------
FEEDING CHILDREN
----------------

2. (U) The project "Support Education" is run by Project
Concern International (PCI). On September 18-19, EconOff,
the USDA Regional Agricultural Counselor, a USDA Agricultural
Specialist, and a FAS/Washington representative visited two
community schools in rural Potosi and Oruro. The reception
was terrific: community bands played, students sang and
saluted, and weathered community leaders gave toothless grins
of appreciation. In total, almost 200,000 children have
benefited from the program across 2,500 schools. This
translates into an impressive 20%-25% of rural schoolchildren
who receive either a hot lunch or breakfast thanks to the
USDA (This figure rises to between 45%-50% if only the states
of the altiplano, where the program operates, are
considered). Moreover, PCI has coordinated the construction
of latrines, water systems, chicken coops, school
greenhouses, and more efficient wood stoves. Before lunch,
each of the children dutifully washed his/her hands and many
proclaimed a strong affinity for the vegetables that came
from the school greenhouses; the only vegetables visible in
any of the altiplano villages.

3. (U) In addition to improving the school
infrastructure, a major focus of the PCI project has been to
increase the representation of girls at school. Indeed,
since the inception of the project in 2002, graduation rates
for girls from the grade school we visited had increased from
30% to 80%, thus reaching a parity with graduation rates for
boys. A PCI representative reported this to be typical across
the participating schools. They also pointed out that the
project focused curriculum on such themes as gender equity,
health and sexuality, environmental stewardship, and
democracy.

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FORTIFYING LLAMAS
-----------------

4. (U) With over two million llamas in the Bolivian
altiplano, the PCI administers the MIS Llamas program which
seeks to augment, and in several poor and isolated
communities actually create, income through improved
management of these traditional herds. Again and again, we
listened to the farmers explain that before the project "we
were sad and now we are happy." More specifically though,
before the project llamas were sickly and thus undervalued,
frequently died at birth, and did not provide much income to
the communities. Through a series of simple actions, MIS
Llamas has begun to successfully transform llamas into
valuable commodities.

5. (U) MIS Llamas consists of four simple activities: 1)
the building of covered corrals for nighttime shelter; 2)
vaccinations and training village representatives for the
task; 3) encouraging the revitalization of herds though the
swapping of males; and 4) construction of fenced and
irrigated plots of forage material for the herds. The

LA PAZ 00002730 002 OF 002


results of these simple steps are remarkable. Mortality
rates have fallen from around 30% to 10% and the average
value of a llama has risen from $200 to $400. In a second
phase of the project, PCI hopes to help market llama products
(llama jerky, sausages, wool and leather) and further
increase the use of private, irrigated forage areas as herd
sizes are stressing traditional communal pastures.

--------------
FATTENING COWS
--------------

6. (U) Tapping on its successes in Peru, USDA funds a
program promoting the use of alfalfa as feed for dairy cows.
The program has identified an appropriate species of alfalfa
well-adapted for the harsh conditions of the altiplano. The
plant goes dormant during the dry winter, but used as feed it
can double milk production in dairy herds. In Bolivia, the
program is administered jointly by the National Program of
Seeds (PNS) and the NGO Save the Children. While meeting
with a farmer's cooperative outside of La Paz, ambitious
expansion plans were discussed to provide the growing market
of La Paz with milk. (Note: Local health authorities have
promoted the use of fresh milk after abuses were discovered
in powdered milk distribution programs. End note.)
Additionally, a local women's group thanked the USDA and the
Save the Children representative for improving the health of
their children. Good feelings were shared all around.

-------------------------------
P.L. 480 -- THE FUNDS ARE THERE
-------------------------------

7. (SBU) The meeting of the P.L. 480 board on September
20th was less positive. Voting members of the board (A
representative from the Ministry of Agriculture, the USDA
Regional Agricultural Counselor, and the EconOff from the
Embassy) decide how to distribute funds left over from the
Title I program which ended in 2004. Currently there are
over US$6 million available. The Board previously met in
June and approved funding seven individual projects for a
total of close to US$4 million. As of the September 20th
meeting only US$46,000 had actually been spent (solely on one
project to combat the Newcastle cattle disease). Moreover,
due to concerns about providing funding to private entities,
Ministry representatives reversed their approval of two of
the seven projects. The other five projects are slated to
move forward, but only after the approval of the Ministry of
Finance. Unfortunately, these bureaucratic delays may also
impact the alfalfa dairy program, as some of the P.L. 480
funds are slated to be distributed through the NPS for seeds.
Government representatives were concerned that the program
was not being adequately coordinated with other efforts the
government was making for small business development. As of
October 2nd, contacts at Save the Children said that the
seeds had not been distributed and the ideal planting season
will soon be past.

-------
COMMENT
-------

8. (SBU) While the USDA is funding popular and successful
programs in the Bolivian altiplano through NGOs, the
difficulty in dispersing available funds by the P.L. 480
board illustrates the frustrations many donors are currently
experiencing partnering with the Bolivian Government.
Following the board meeting, the USDA Regional Agricultural
Counselor and EconOff met with the new Vice Minister of
Agriculture Roxana Liendo. The meeting was a cordial and
several training programs to help build institutional
capacity were discussed. However, Agriculture Ministry
officials worried that approval by the Ministry of Finance
may prove more problematic.
GOLDBERG

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