Or How a Dronten Resident Thinks About Agricultural Development in Bonaire

Breemhaar has a new idea: agriculture in Bolivia. He’s looking for entrepreneurs willing to take the risk.

When we read that, we immediately thought we should consult the maps created by Westermann and Zonneveld in 1956 of Bonaire, which are part of the book ‘Photo-geological Observations and Land Capability & Land Use Survey of the Island of Bonaire,’ published by the Royal Institute for the Tropics in Amsterdam, back when it was known by that name.

The first map (Geological and Land Use map) quickly reveals that present-day Bolivia consists entirely of quaternary limestone. In layman’s terms, it’s coral stone that formed roughly from about 2.5 million years ago. It’s certainly not fertile soil like we have in the Dutch IJsselmeer polders. Very small portions of Bolivia were previously used for growing Aloe (+/- 1.5 ha) and Sorghum (+/- 2 ha). The rest of Bolivia (around 3,000 ha) has never been used for agricultural activities. Former governor and co-owner Hart recently mentioned that melons were cultivated there a few decades ago. The reason for discontinuing that can be seen on the second map.

The second map (Land Capability and Land Use map) immediately shows that the coastal plain of approximately 1,000 ha cannot be used for anything. Not for agriculture, not for livestock, and not for logging. A significant portion of Bolivia, south of that coastal plain, is considered usable for livestock and forestry (i.e., logging), according to Westermann and Zonneveld. However, they warn that using this area comes with ‘serious restrictions or risk of damage.’ The southern part of Bolivia can be ‘occasionally used for limited agriculture but has very severe limitations,’ and a part is ‘suitable for grazing and forestry (logging). But even for this part, ‘moderate restrictions or risk of damage’ apply.

The conclusion is clear. Large portions of Bolivia are unsuitable for any agricultural activities. Some areas are usable, but often with limited potential, for grazing livestock and logging. However, the use of these areas comes with (often severe) limitations and the risk of damage. The message to potential interested parties is, therefore: don’t attempt it, the chance of success is very limited, and the chance of irreversible damage is significant.

Breemhaar, with his new idea, is focused on reducing damage. After all, there will be interest to pay on the purchase price of 12.5 million dollars. With the accumulating interest, it becomes a significant cost. His idea of developing agricultural activities is an attempt to buy time until he gets permission to build 2,000 houses in Bolivia.


1) photo-geplogical observations and research into land capability and land use.