Petty producers, potatoes and land : a case study of agrarian change in the Cochabamba Serranla, Bolivia
The thesis comprises a study of agrarian change in one highland, ex-hacienda locality in the Cochabamba region of Bolivia and documents a process of agricultural intensification and crop specialisation amongst small producers. The thesis demonstrates that. Since the Agrarian Reform, a process of commoditization has transformed the locality, leading to its incorporation into the regional economy as a major producer of potatoes. It examines the role played by a dynamic sector of truck operators and commercial intermediaries in stimulating this process. The thesis reconstructs the emergence of the hacienda, and the forms of production which co-existed on the estate. It documents the implementation of the Agrarian Reform and the distribution of land titles to ex-labour-rent tenants which consolidated the pattern of usufruct holdings and consequently formalised inequality between households. The contemporary situation is characterised by an intensive farming system which places considerable demands upon local environmental resources. The thesis conducts a detailed analysis of the existing pattern of land ownership, labour relationships and the distribution of other productive resources, to demonstrate that access to the means of production, control over the production process and disposal of the fruits of labour are highly uneven between households. However, inequality in the control over agricultural operations, besides the movement of labour from poor to rich households, do not by themselves provide sufficient evidence of differentiation between units. The thesis examines other dimensions which play a vital role in determining the social and economic trajectory of households. These include the role played by non-agricultural economic activities and the organisational structure of households. The thesis demonstrates the value of moving beyond the boundaries that conventionally define the analysis of household production, in order to examine dynamics within the domestic unit. Case studies are used to illustrate this approach.