Climate-resilient small-scale agriculture

Project description

Title: Sustainable agricultural development in Bolivia (PROAGRO III)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
Country: Bolivia
Lead executing agency: Ministerio de Planificación del Desarrollo
Overall term: 2014 to 2017

Bolivia:, A transition from dry farming to irrigated agriculture is necessary in order to improve production. Chullcu Mayu, Cochabamba. © GIZ


Bolivia is one of the countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change. Climate models indicate that changes in temperature, levels of rainfall and precipitation patterns will have a detrimental impact on agricultural production. Global warming has a crucial effect on the water cycle, with drastic consequences for farming owing to its direct dependence on reliable rainfall.

Many factors make Bolivia’s irrigated farming systems highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change: natural resources are not sustainably managed; the collection, storage, distribution and use of water for irrigation are inefficient; agricultural productivity and profitability are low, and the management of climate risks in the agricultural sector needs to be improved.

In the country’s small-scale farming sector, the returns from production inputs generally only cover the costs in the best-case scenarios. Water availability is insufficient and is even decreasing in many watersheds. In irrigation, water use efficiency is around 33 per cent. Although irrigated farming currently only covers 8 per cent of the agricultural production area, the negative impacts of climate change on soil conditions and soil moisture in the country’s arid regions will increasingly necessitate a transition from dry farming to irrigated systems. Bolivia has therefore declared the next ten years the Decade of Irrigation. The high political priority accorded to this issue is also reflected in the sharp increase in public investment.


The resilience of small-scale irrigated agricultural production systems to the impacts of climate change is increased in the programme region.

Bolivia. PROAGRO aims to increase the socio-economic value of vegetable production. Women at the market in Capinota, Cochabamba. © GIZ


In order to increase the resilience of small-scale irrigated farming systems to the impacts of climate change, the programme is developing the human, organisational and social capacity of national, regional and local partners in the following areas:

  1. Sustainable management of natural resources to improve the production base
  2. Increasing the profitability of agricultural production for food security
  3. Building adaptation skills to improve the management of climate risks for farming systems.

There is considerable potential to contribute to increasing resilience, particularly in the public projects on watershed management, irrigation and agriculture. The partners are assisted in enhancing the quality of these projects. The programme supports the coordination processes between the centralised water and agriculture sectors as well as the harmonisation and coordination efforts between national and subnational levels.

A key success factor for successfully implementing investment programmes and providing effective agricultural extension services is the availability of well-trained irrigated farming experts. The programme is therefore supporting the establishment of a further training system that caters for the current needs for expertise in the water, environmental and agricultural sectors.

The programme advises the two partner ministries and their research and advisory institutions on introducing innovations related to water collection and supply, irrigation and agricultural production systems (cultivation, diversification, storage, processing and marketing).

The programme provides support geared to improving services delivered by public and private institutions as well as non-governmental organisations for the production, processing and sale of agricultural products. These services include agricultural extension, transfer of innovations, purchasing of seeds, and access to credit, information and markets. In this manner, the programme helps to increase the profitability of agricultural production.


The programme is chiefly active in the dry inter-Andean valleys in the Departments of Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, Potosí and Santa Cruz. These areas are characterised by their considerable agricultural potential, particular sensitivity to climate stressors, high poverty rates and extreme vulnerability in terms of food security. National investment programmes are also being implemented in these regions.

The Government of Sweden is providing financial support through the Swedish International Development Agency.