Agriculture in a highland desert


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Agriculture in a highland desert : the Central Altiplano of Bolivia
Physical Description:
Preston, David A., 1936-
Hardman, Martha J., Dr. ( <i>donor</i> ) ( donor )
Dept. of Geography, University of Leeds ( Leeds, England )
Publication Date:
15 leaves, [3] leaves of plates ill.maps; 30 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Arid regions agriculture -- Agriculture -- Bolivia -- Social aspects

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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
oclc - 51812086
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Table of Contents
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    Agriculture in a highland desert: The central altiplano of Bolivia
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Full Text
W" k -.Pa o
-or ing

Department of Geography

niversity of Leeds

Workin Paper 18


David A. Preston

Published in French in Cahiers d'Outre-ier.,
102, Vol...'.6, No.,', 197), pp.113-28.

Agriculture in a highland desert: the Central Altiplano of Bolivia1

The central part of the high plateau of Bolivia is an area which
is distinctive principally for its forbidding physical environment.
Rainfall is scanty and unreliable, frosts are bitter and frequent and
even economic minerals, frequently the saving grace of such a barren
area, are scarce. As a result this is almost an unknown part of
highland Bolivia.(2) It has never been densely populated although
ancient tombs litter the landscape and even during the colonial period
it was never sufficiently highly esteemed for grants of land to have
been made to nobles. As a result large haciendas did not develop and
the area is one where freeholding rural communities predominate.

The aim of this paper is to document the existing systems of
farming and to show how they have developed to make maximum use of
hostile environment. Furthermore it will be shown to what extent
farming systems have been subject to change in the period of rapid
social change since the 1952 Revolution. It will be seen that,
although agriculture has remained very traditional, opportunities
to acquire other forms of income have been taken and considerable cultural
change has taken place.

The physical environment

Like much of the high plateau of the Central Andes, the Central
Altiplano is predominantly flat with its level surface broken only
here and there by protuberant volcanic cones. To the north and the
south lie low Tertiary hills rising only to about 300 metres above
the general 3700 metre level of the Altiplano itself. The Central
Altiplano is a distinctive physiographic unit, for to the north lies
a dissected plateau and to the south beyond the Salar of Uyuni, lies
the basin and range country of Lipez. The western limit of the
Central Altiplano running along the frontier with Chile, is a steep
edge of the western Cordillera whose mountains rise to over 6,000
metres. To the east the edge of the complex range that forms the
Cordillera Oriental can be seen rising abruptly above the plateau.
(see Fig. i).

The aridity of the Central Altiplano is emphasised by the fact
that only three perennial streams flow through it. In the east the
River Desaguadero drains Lake Titicaca into the shallow Lake Poopo;


in the centre of the Central Altiplano the River Barras drains from
the vicinity of the volcano Sajama southwards towards the salt flats
of the Salar de Coipasa. The westernmost river of the area is the
River Lauca which flows from the area of Sajama to the central part
of the Salar de Coipasa. Each of these rivers is barely more than
150 centimetres deep and little more than 50 metres wide. Other
small streams appear during the wet season but none of them carries
any water during the eight to ten months of the year during which
no rain falls.

The most important hazard to agriculture in the Central Altiplano
is drought. Rainfall decreases from east to west from around 400
millimetres in the vicinity of Oruro to as little as 100 millimetres
in the lee of the western Cordillera. Apart from absolute scarcity
of rainfall the most important feature of the aridity is the unreliability
of rainfall in particular during the first part of the rainy season when
the seeds that have been recently sovn require moisture for
germination. In a number of years rainfall may come particularly late,
possibly after Christmas, and crops are unable to ripen before the
beginning of the dry season. On occasions precipitation in the wet
season is in the form of hail which, if it occurs when plants are in
flower, is capable of sufficient damage to ruin the harvest. During
the 8-10 months of the year when little or no precipitation occurs the
chief hazard is frost. The intense insolation from cloudless daytime
skies is lost during the night when the s1Wj remains completely clear
and rapid cooling takes place. During the coolest part of the year
from June to September night-time temperatures may drop as low as -150C.
Frost prevalence during such a long period of the year makes it difficult
for any plants other than those which are frost resistant to be planted.
As a result of this, for example, bitter potatoes (pa ) are more
common than the ordinary sweet potato, since they are both hardy and
frost resistant.

Land tenure

A considerable variety of land tenure exists, ranging from clearly
defined individual ownership to plots near to small villages, to
communal ownership and semi-communal ownership over a large area of
grazing land. (3) The areas which are most suitable for agriculture
are those where frost is least likely and where greatest humidity
occurs. As a result the lower hillsides and the downwash slopes


immediately below the rocky hillsides are the most highly prized
agricultural areas. Individual rights are therefore most clearly
defined on the stoney hillsides where stones have to be gathered to
clear fields, and form walls to demarcate individual holdings. The
uppermost part of the hills which supports cactus and thorn scrub and
where night temperatures are lower is usually left as communal grazing

Downwash slopes at the foot of the hillsides are the most favoured
location for villages throughout the Central Altiplano, and also the
area where some of the most fertile and best watered land is encountered.
As a result, although house plots and surrounding gardens are owned by
individual families, good cultivable land on the periphery of some
villages is held in common and is periodically sub-divided amongst all
the members of the community for a 3-4 year period. When the land is
fallowed it reverts to communal overship. The scrubland away from
the lower hillslopes, which forms probably 80 per cent of the total
surface area of the Altiplano, is used almost exclusively for grazing
by sheep and to a greater extent llamas.

Although some areas of clearly defined individual ownership occurs
in particular in areas adjacent to villages and in some places along
road ways in general the only areas in the scrublands to which individual
ownership and pasture rights are clearly recognised are close to those
places where farmers have temporary dwellings. Such temporary dwellings
normally have corrals associated with them and the llamas wander out
each day to graze whatever part of the adjacent part of the scrub they
wish, returning at nightfall of their own accord. Because llamas
need relatively little attention they are well suited to grazing out-
lying areas. By contrast the farmers who maintain small flocks of
sheep almost always are those who have grazing land near to the village.
This rather curious and ill-defined system of grazing rights in the
scrubland areas may best be described as semi-individual ownership,
since limits are seldom defined between areas where the flocks of one
man may graze a.nd those of his neighbour. In those areas of the srub
where springs occur and on the banks of the few perennial rivers of the
Central Altiplano, communal grazing rights are generally recognised in
order that all flocks may have access to the water and to the bettor
grazing during the drier times of the year.

( Y


The physical environment provides opportunities for agriculture
in only a few localities over large areas of the Central Altiplano.
As a result of this a wide variety of land tenure forms exist.
Agriculture has developed in such a way as to make maximum use of what
rainfall does occur in good years and still provide surplus production
to prevent starvation during dry years. It is now necessary to
describe the characteristics of the agriculture of the Altiplano in
order to see the way in which maximum use is made of the limited
potential of the physical environment.

Systems of agriculture

There is a basic relationship of land use and land tenure to \ V
terrain that occurs in many communities of the CentraJ ipl. o --
Apart from the lake flat communities, of which(Challacollo11 as typical,
the only Altiplano communities where this relationship is not similar
are Coipasa and the communities to the west of the Salar de Coipasa
where the level at which cultivation begins is 2-300 m. above the
hillfoot settlements.

The relation between land use and terrain as seen in Escara is
indicated in Figure 2. As can be observed the uppermost hillslopes are
of low potential,they are rocky with little vegetation and are normally
grazed by llamas. Where male and female llamas are separated, as in
Escara, the male llamas are grazed on these upper slopes. The quenu
tree is found at this altitude and it is frequently cut for firewood
and for the preparation of charcoal. The rocky middle hillslopes
provide small areas between the large boulders where potatoes can be
sown and on the lower part of the slope tall cacti are common and are
much used as beams in small houses and, when lashed together, as doors.
Below this the angle of slope decreases sharply, the surface is less
rocky, and largely composed of downwash material. This is usually the
best land for crops and here quinoa is sown. It is in this zone too
that communal tenure is frequent.

In addition to these areas already indicated, cultivation is
practised on a small scale by a few individuals near springs in the
scrub where there is sufficient ground moisture for plant growth.

Upper Hittstope

Figure 2

Land Use, Tenure and Terrain in Escara




U.-. r.t'd j


I~..,.,, -~

SI I ,-,...,~ I............






However, further east in the areas of lake flats near Toledo and
Challacollo and between Papelpampa and La Joya extensive areas of
mudflats are cultivated wherever salinity permits. Quinoa, Canahua,
and zaluki (the bitter potato) are planted here without any
preparation of the ground save the excavation of a shallow hole where
seeds are placed. This is similar to one method of sowing in Chipaya.
Quinoa is sown in this fashion in many houseplots in Escara where no
form of irrigation is used although a number of houseplots have their
own wells and it would not be difficult to water such a small area.

There are wide variations in the intensity of use of land and the
period of fallow is clearly a function of population pressure as well as
the quality of the land. In Escara most people sow only parts of
individual walled plots on the hillsides (canchones) for two or three
years although some individuals sow for four or five years consecutively.
Plots are normally left in fallow for 4-20 years and nine or ten years
in the commonest fallow period. Plots are fallowed over longer periods
when a series of dry years intervene and also when the owner has a large
number of plots. In the hillfoot lands, in houseplots, and in lake flat
areas, the fallow period is customarily 3-4 years following three years
of cropping.

Chipaya agriculture is quite distinct from that in other areas of
pampa. The mainstay of the economy is livestock rearing and each family
has about thirty sheep and maybe six llamas, although some have as many
as a hundred sheep. These animals are pastured from houses and corrals
in the village and at other times from one of the various estancias
situated in the pampa away from the village. The main cash income
derived from agriculture comes from cheeses made from ewes milk during
the summer. These cheeses are sold both direct in Oruro and to
merchants who come to Chipaya. Pigs are universally kept, between
two and six by each family, and they are used to prepare the land for
sowing. The village of Chipaya is divided into two distinct social
units, ayllus. Each y has its own clearly defined lands for both
pasture and cultivation and in each there are several areas used for
cultivation. An area is normally sown for only one year and then
fallowed for two or three years. These croplands are flooded in
January of the year in which they will be sowm, by means of a branch
of Lauca river being diverted across the area to be sown so that not

only is the land watered but also the moving water dissolves and


removes the soluble salts lying on the surface of the land. The
flooding, or floodwashing, lasts for six or seven months until July
and then after the stream has been re-diverted the pigs of the whole
S llu are brought to root in marshy land. This turns the soil and
improves the land prior to planting which occurs in October after the
.') pigs have been on the land for about three months. The whole area
I thus prepared is divided into strips (t chias) among the members of
the allu paying their contribution territorial and sods are out and
\ upended to mark the limits of each strip. Quinoa and in some places
A ocafiahua is sowna i hos d with a simple digging stick (ja). a)

After sowing the 'citIvated areas are guarded by members of the avllu
nominated annually, known as the western avllu (Aranspy
ir Taxata) has five muacamas and tho eastern one (Manasava or Tuanta)
has only four. These people spend the entire growing seasons beside
the crops to keep off wandering livestock and in return for this

service they can cultivate the smell suitable areas that the geometrical
precision of the rectangular ,chias has ignored. In this way muoamas
are thought to have about twice the area cultivated of other members
of the ayl.

In the eastern Chipaya village of Ayparavi an even more distinctive
system of cultivation has been developed to exploit the existence of
large shifting sand dunes in the area. Land recently exposed to the windward
of the moving dune is used to sow quinoa since the land from which
the dune has moved has sufficient moisture to permit the quinoa to
germinate and grow quickly and thus be able to make best use of whatever
rainfall occurs. The principal danger to crops grown here is from
drifting sand and to prevent this low windbreaks are constructed and
the depressions in which the quinoa is sown are cleared of sand
regularly. Neither the use of flood fallowing, of pigs for turning
the soil nor the planting of crops beside sand dunes has been previously
described as characteristic of Chipaya agriculture (4) and these
practices seem to be unique to the Chipaya.

Livestock rearing is an important agricultural activity throughout
the Central Altiplano and all the plant associations are grazed by llamas
and sheep. The livestock density is difficult to calculate, in the
first place because limits to areas grazed by tbe animals of a particular
family are frequently not generally recognised and secondly because of
the variations in potential of different vegetation associations.


Using the map of the community of Escara (Fig. 3) it was possible to
calculate a livestock density varying from five and ten hectares per
llama, although in instances where individuals had more than one
estancia, livestock densities may have been as low as 20 ha. per
llama. In addition it seems that estancias located near the dry
river courses, where bettor pasture occurs, were not, as might be
expected, smaller than holdings in the thola scrub. Kankani, for
example, in the NE part of Figure 3, is located near a river course
but nonetheless has an approximate area of 1,200 ha. In general
the low livestock density is probably a compensation for years of low
rainfall and certainly in late 1966 after several very dry years
people in Escara were complaining that sheep and llamas were not able
to rear their young for lack of milk as a result of under-nourishment.

Besides llamas and sheep there are few other grazing animals that
are common. Alpacas are confined to the few areas of good pasture and
donkeys are kept only in small numbers. Pigs and chickens are likewise
kept in small numbers in most settlements, with the exception of Chipaya.
Guinea-pigs are not domesticated here but found wild in certain places
in considerable numbers.

Systems of work

In most communities all agricultural work is done by hand. Only
in Challacollo are oxen used and even there only to a limited extent.
Since the size of plots seems generally to be small (less than half a
hectare in Escara) the labour input for planting and harvesting is low
and relatively little labour is needed to prepare the land for sowing
except in areas long in fallow where scrub has grown up. Those whose
labour needs are greater than supply are old people without relatives
available to help and the few individuals of the community with areas
of cultivable land much greater than average.

A mutual labour assistance for agricultural tasks, is used
only to a limited extent and since it carries an obligation to return
the labour borrowed 4t once its advantage is limited to the speed with
which a job can be done. Thus if X has a field to be planted which
would take two people two days to plant, and he and his wife are joined
in by two neighbours and together the four of them take only one

Figure 3

of Escara

good p9st ar
co ltlvated 1.n8

-- tre0k
br k of slop*
.- dry tok.



day to plant the field, then X and his wife are obliged to work for
these neighbours for a day so they end by still working for two days:
one for themselves and the other for neighbours.

In Escara paid workers are contracted more frequently for assistance
in construction work in the town than for agricultural tasks. Chipayas
are commonly employed but in other communities young men, as yet without
land of their own, are sources of day labourers. The prevalent rate for
a day's work seems to range from $b. 3 (25 US cents) daily with a meal
to Ob. 6 (50 US cents) without a meal. Arrangements such as share-
cropping are relatively uncommon but on the other hand this is
probably the most common arrangement made by emigrants.

Agricultural change

The potential improvements in the systems of agriculture are few.
The main impediment to crop growth is lack of rainfall and thus irrigation
is a possible means to improve yields. In Escara only one person was
encountered who irrigated his houseplot although a previous school
director had instituted a school garden where a variety of vegetables
were grown with watering. There seems to be ample well water for the
irrigation of small vegetable gardens. The River Lauca, seemingly
little affected by the diversion of part of its headwaters in Chile,
maintains a good flow throughout the year, even in late 1966 when the
nearby River Barras had dried up. In the east the Desaguadero
likewise flows strongly throughout the year. The water table is not
very low and seems seldom to be more than four metres below the surface.
The salinity of the river water is high and, for example, water taken
from the Lauca near Chipaya is very salty even though it is used for
drinking. Nonetheless Chipayas use Lauca water for their form of
irrigation apparently without adverse affect to their crops. Large-
scale irrigation is also possibly near these rivers but naturally requires
a high level of investment on which the return might not be very great.
Furthermore, frost hazard might well limit the variety of crops that
could be grown. Medium and small-scale irrigation near to the few
perennial streams would be less costly although salt accumulations
would occur unless drainage canals were also constructed. The soils
of the area are generally deficient in organic matter and probably in
phosphorous too. The former could be remedied by the use of animal
manure and the planting of leguminous fodder crops during the fallow


period. The chemical deficiencies in the soil could be remedied by the
use of inorganic fertilizers but the use of these fertilizers in such
areas of low rainfall is unwise since the crops could be spoiled if
there was not enough rainfall to wash the minerals into the soil. In
addition the cost is unlikely to be economically justifiable without

If agricultural change is defined as the adoption of new agricultural
techniques then there is an almost complete lack of change in the
Central Altiplano. Most change was encountered in the ex-hacienda
La Joya but in communities further away from Oruro the changes observed
were negligible. In the mountain community of Todos Santos, use is
made of a stream running beside the town to irrigate fields and a
number of crops are grown there that are not found elsewhere in the
region, such as lettuce, onions and garlic. In Escara one individual
waters about three square metres of his houseplot and grows alfalfa
there; in Challacollo one person, who has worked briefly in Chile, got
the idea there to plant various vegetables but found only beans (habas)
suited to the climate in Challacollo. In Chipaya it seems that a more
radical change has occured. Since Metraux studied Chipaya in 1930-31
irrigation washing of the areas to be planted, described elsewhere, has
been introduced.) Metraux comments that he suggested that this might be
a potential improvement) and that some members of the community were
considering it, but it had not yet been tried out. A possible source of
this new technique is the experience that many Chipayas have had working
in the Chilean altiplano.

Apart from these innovations nothing else was encountered in the
communities west of Oruro. Although as has been indicated the potential
for change is low, the lack of change is in part surprising when the
degree of emigration from these communities is considered but, as is
indicated later, the new experience of agriculture gained by emigrants
is seldom relevant to the agriculture of the Central Altiplano. The
possible agents of change are also few. The existence of an agricultural
extension agent in Corque was unknown in all the communities visited and
Peace Corps members likewise do not come to these communities. None of
the departmental government agents concerned with community development
visited communities west of Lake Poopo save occasional local government
commissions; in short the only possible avenues for innovation and
agricultural change are the peasants themselves. As is frequently the


case, emigration, particularly rural-urban migration, seldom results
in a feedback of relevant new ideas.7)

In the east of the region, near Oruro, examples of agricultural
change are more frequently encountered. Agricultural extension work
from Toledo seems to have had some impact in Choro near to the north
end of Lake Poopo but of the various locations visited most change was
found in La Joya, one of the ex-haciendas. Here the number of sheep
maintained on estancias had increased since the Revolution, one farmer
at the instigation of his son, a trained agronomist, has brought a
number of pure-bred rams from the Patacamaya Experimental Station in
order to improve his flock. Barley is now widely used as a
supplementary feed, and the number of pigs and chickens has greatly
increased. These changes in La Joya contrast strongly with the absence
of change in-freeholdiing communities further west. Possible reasons
4 for this may be found in the existence of a nucleo escolar in the town
for some considerable time. This offers more years of schooling than
exist in surrounding communities. In addition people have gone from
the local school, stayed with relatives living in Oruro and attended
i secondary school there and trained as teachers, mechanics and in at
least one case as an agronomist. It seems reasonable to assume a
certain amount of feedback of new ideas and desire for progress
resulting from this educational progress. In addition, not only is
La Joya in a region of higher and rather more dependable rainfall than
communities further west, but also a number of families have arbitrarily
appropriated areas of land suitable for cultivation and pasture that
were farmed by the estate owner before the Revolution. Thus they have
enlarged their holdings and would logically increase the number of
livestock that they had.

Process of change and future prospects

The change most apparently related to land tenure is towards a
clearer definition of individual land holdings. In several communities
where the majority of the land is now divided permanently between the
families of the community, it is kown that this was carried out some
time during the middle of the last century. In oe community Chiua,
near Rosapata, the pastureland has been divided within the last 30 years.
This process operated first in areas of cultivated land and last in areas
of pasture for reasons previously indicated. There is a discernible

feeling among the communities visited that it is more desirable that
land should be divided up and each person possess plots and land with
known limits. In some respects there is identification of the process
of permanent sub-division of the land by contrast with the ancient
system of periodic temporary distribution as a process of modernization
and is thus desirable. Related directly to this and a probable cause
of the desire for change in this form is the level of migration in most
Central Altiplano communities with which is associated a high degree of
acculturation. A part of this acculturation is the placing of higher
values upon personal freedom and independence as opposed to community
solidarity and communal action which leads logically to an erosion of
traditional community practices such as periodic land distribution.

The systems of agriculture in the Central Altiplano have been
modified little since the Colonial period and likewise the resource
base is unchanged. There is no evidence that the natural vegetation
has been altered markedly and seventeenth and eighteenth century
documents relating to Chipaya, for example, imply that the crops grown
were identical with those found now. Given the present physical
resources great changes cannot reasonably be expected, although thqlack
of r @seiorcbjt the ptential of A I st debars a firm
concjuas;s regarding its potential for livestock rearing. Irrigation
is the main possibility in this area. Although there exist the isolated
examples of irrigation already referred to, there seemed no knowledge of
the possible benefits of irrigation. There is little doubt that areas
along the river Lauca and near the river Desaguadero could be irrigated
without a great deal of investment although salinity problems could
affect utility unless measures were taken to drain the irrigated areas.

The third change that has occurred in the area studied is an increase
in both short-term and long-term migration. Although migration has
alweys been one of the characteristics of the human geography of this
area, the number of people migrating and the places to which they migrate
has changed during the last 25 years. The traditional migration since
prehistoric times from the Central and South Altiplano has been to the
temperate valleys of Chuquisaca and Cochabamba. People from the
Altiplano communities take dried potatoes (chufie) and dried meat
(charqui or chalona) to the areas of salt mining on the Salars of
Coipasa and Uyuni and exchange their produce for salt blocks. The salt
is then carried to the valleys and exchanged again for maize, broad


beans and other temperate crops. Usually sevora.l men travel together
each with ton or fifteen llamas and thus a llama train may contain as
many as fifty animals. They travel slowly, seldom covering more than
15 kIns. daily, and they may be away from home for four or five months.
They follow well recognised routes and in May 1967 some dozen llama
trains, some 600 llamas in total, were passed during a couple of hours
of one morning between Caripuyo and Huanuni, in the mountains east of
Oruro. Formerly many men went from communities on this journey but
now it seems that the main exodus is from the region of Corque and from
communities in other areas only three or four men will go annually.
One reason for this decline is very obviously the increasing attraction
of alternative places and other methods of migration. Now the majority
of migration is by lorry and train to the tropical lowlands of Bolivia
and northern Argentina.

In the absence of a census of families in any of the communities
the degree of emigration from the Central Altiplano cannot be estimated
accurately but in the majority of communities between 10 and 25 per cent
of the families leave the community during the slackest period, May to
October, and of these maybe a third live more or less permanently away
from the community. M-igration is very closely related to the poverty
of agricultural returns in the Central Altiplano and more directly with
series of very dry years when, for some families, levels of living can
be maintained only through temporary migration to find new jobs and to
save money to take home. Although the first impulse to migration is
given in this way, people will continue to migrate through habit and as
a result of contacts made through previous journeys even when the
original expulsive force no longer exists. Many peasants from
communities in the west of the Altiplano go to Chile, especially to
areas of small-scale irrigation in the Chilean Andes. Chipayas in
particular habitually migrate for several months of the year to these
areas. People from the larger settlements and with a higher degree of
acculturation tend to go more to the coastal towns of Iquique and
Antofagasta. Migration to Chile is materially assisted by the number
of contraband lorries that travel between Oruro and various points of
the frontier. In the late 1960's for political reasons, the frontier
was more difficult to cross and migration towards Oruro proportionately
increased. In the east of the area migration is predominantly towards
Oruro. Challacollo, some 30 minutes by road from the city, had
experienced the migration of a considerable proportion of its manpower


to the city. In other areas in the east of the Central Altiplano
but farther from Oruro migration is towards eastern Bolivia, Santa
Cruz or to Argentina. Almost all the inhabitants of Ayllu Calavilca
of Orinoca go to work in Ledesma and Jujuy in Argentina for several
months annually, and 80 per cent of the families of Orinoca town
migrate to the temperate valleys and to Argentina.

Despite the general nature of this change it has had little impact
on the agriculture of the area for migrants travel mainly either to
urban centres or to areas of tropical or sub-tropical agriculture where
their experiences have little relevance to agriculture on the Central
Altiplano, and thus technical innovations are not stimulated.

The positive changes that do result from migration are threefold.
Firstly the present series of dry years with falling agricultural
incomes has increased the incentive to engage in smuggling for people
in communities near to the frontier. In Sabaya, a reputed centre of
this activity, there are as many as a dozen lorries owned by people of
the town and many of the signs of relative affluence, newly-painted
houses, bicycles, etc., in this and other centres may be in part result
of income from smuggling. Secondly, people returning home after a
period away, be it in a fish-processing plant in Antofagasta, the
Mina San Jose in Oruro or a sugar factory in Santa Cruz, bring both
money and new ideas with them. The money often serves to stimulate
retail trade in the community and the migrants themselves may be
tempted to engage in trade. In many cases too migrants spend
considerable sums of money enhancing their status in the community by
building ostentatious homes that they live in while they are in town.
An example of this is the bright green, two-storey, unoccupied house
in the main square of Escara, owned by an Escaran teaching in Oruro.
It is noteworthy that neither temporary nor permanent migration causes
change in land holdings since in all cases migrants retain control of
their land. Migration is seen mainly as a source of additional
income and, since it does not ease the pressure on land by releasing
it to non-migrant families, it is not an agent of redistribution.

Future change seems likely to include further migration,
principally to towns, but migration to colonization areas does not
seem likely to occur spontaneously except to a very small degree.


So far very fow people have migrated permanently to a colonization
area. They find, that- the unaccustomed climate and ropsprovide
such an alien working environment that the are unhappy in the new
area. Those that do go to areas of colonization often return home
to the Altiplano after a few months of the strange environment. For
planned schemes of colonization there does exist a reservoir of people
particularly in the communities near Andamarca and Orinoca who have
experience of tropical agriculture through temporary migration, to the
eastern lowlands.



(1) Field work in the Central Altiplano was largely carried out
while the author was Consultant to the Comite Interamericano
para Desarrollo Agricola in 1966. This article, however,
expresses only personal views.

(2) The few sources of information about the agriculture of the
Central Altiplano include Z. Bacarreza; 'Monografla de la
provincia de Carangas'. Boletln de la Sociedad Geografica
dc La Paz, (1931), 61-62, 73-114; A. Posnanskr; NUOvas
investigaciones en Carangas, Corpte Rendu de la XXI Session,
Congres International des Americanistes (~tebur_24), 85-102;
A Metraux, Contribution au folklore andin. Journal de la
Societe dos Amricanistes, 26 (1934), 67-102; W.J. McEwan (ed.);
C_ni Rural Bolivia (New York: Research Institute for the
Study of Man, 1969) and H. Rodriguez ot al., Progresismos y
cambios en la comunidad campesina dc Llica (Lima, Universidad
Mayor de San Marcis, Facultad do Letra'-,1963).

(3) A fuller account of the land tenure systems of this area is to
be found in D.A. Preston: Land Tenure and Agricultural Development
in the Central Altiplano, Bolivia. In B.S. Hoyle (ed.) SXatial
Aspects of Development (London: John Wiley & Sons Ltd..,

(4) The main sources of information about the Chipaya are to be found
in the accounts by A. Metraux: Les indiens Uro-.tipaya de Carangas.
Journal de la Societe des Americanistes, 27 (1935), 111-28;
28 (1936), 155-207.

(5) This map was compiled from aerial photographs taken in 1963, from
a map in the possession of the community and from field

(6) See A. Metraux: Contribution au folklore andin. Journal de
la Societe des Amercanistes, 26 (1934), 67-102.

(7) David A. Preston: Rural Emigration in Andean America. Huran
organization, 28 (1969), 270-86.