Gastronomic Capital of Bolivia, Cochabamba, located at 2,558 meters of altitude, overlooks of the fertile soil of the Andean valley. The third largest city of Bolivia with 691,970 inhabitants, this area is renowned for its gastronomic richness and history that stretches back to the Pre-Columbian era, when Cochabamba was the most important centre of grain production of the Inka Empire. Gastronomy is so deeply rooted in the city’s identity that a local, old saying goes ‘a Cochabambino does not eat to live but live to eat’. The sector generates around 17% of the departmental GDP and employs more than 265,000 people or one third of the labour force.
The city hosts a hundred gastronomic fairs and festivals every year, including the Expo Alimenta which is a flagship event on food export market. This event facilitates international partnerships, as well as providing a platform to exchange experiences and knowledge around the current trends of food systems, gathering around 150 businesses of the sector. To implement more ef cient production systems and guarantee alimentary sovereignty, Cochabamba conducts active research on sustainable and ecological agro-food and on use of technologic innovation applied to agro-industrial processes.
Cochabamba has developed several initiatives and policies aimed at safeguarding and promoting its gastronomical heritage. In 2016, the City launched the Municipal Plan for the Development of the Regional Gastronomy. Through the implementation of 27 action lines, the initiative aims to increase the income, employment and business opportunities in the food industry. The City is also committed to strengthening a comprehensive approach of gastronomy as a strategic sector for culture-led development. It has also completed a plan to create an effective public-private local economic development agency, in charge of executing the economic plans related to gastronomy and cope with the long-term challenges to achieve sustainable food systems.
As a Creative City of Gastronomy, Cochabamba envisages:
- promoting regional gastronomy as a cultural asset and a source of identity, by engaging all stakeholders of the food chain,
- implementing the Project VEAC from mARTadero, a pilot incubator for creative businesses;
- launching the House of Gastronomy Urban Development project, aiming to transform run-down areas in premises for the gastronomy eld;
- organising the International Festival of Typical and Traditional Cuisine, a large-scale event featuring other Creative Cities of Gastronomy and of other creative elds;
- building a physical and online business platform dedicated to Creative Cities of Gastronomy, aimed at supporting new international businesses development; and
- fostering city-to-city exchange of experiences and best practices within the UCCN, through professional and artistic exchange programmes.