In the streets of Loma Plata

(continuer en français) – Last updated: January 3, 2021

Loma Plata is located 12 miles, 20 kilometres, from Filadelfia, two thirds of the Trans-Chaco Highway that runs through northern Paraguay to Bolivia. It has a population of about 6,000 people, many of whom live in the farming villages around the urban centre.

Like its neighbour, the town was founded by Mennonites, those ones came mainly from Canada in 1927 to establish the Menno Colony. At that time Canada instituted English as the only language of instruction in the area where the Mennonites had emigrated at the end of the 19th century, retaining until then their language, close to German, Plautdietsch. This change was not accepted by a part of the community that sought another land to settle in and moved subsequently to Paraguay.

The early days of the colony in Paraguay were tough, with the need to clear land, manage scarce water resources and deal with the lack of transportation infrastructure.

The community was organized into 14 villages with family farms. In the town were the shared facilities, such as churches, schools and the administration building, now converted into a museum of the colony and a tourist office.

German is still the main language spoken in Loma Plata, and there was even talk for a while of giving the town another name, Sommerfeld, before returning to the initial name, which was already well known.

The water issue was one of the first to be resolved to ensure the growth of livestock farming. The Chaco experiences episodes of heavy rains that contribute to make travel difficult, if not impossible, on the old dirt roads. The water then penetrates the subsoil to feed a highly saline groundwater, which is unfit for consumption. It was therefore necessary to set up a system of underground cisterns to collect the rainwater and return it at the necessary times.

A cooperative was established, Chortitzer Ltda. Integrated activities were set up around agricultural products, starting with milk, which was processed and marketed in many products such as yoghurts. In surveys published regularly in the press, the Chortitzer cooperative consistently ranks among the most popular employers with their employees.

While there are relatively few houses in the town centre, there are several factories producing, for instance, animal feed or processing cotton. All of them belong to the Chortitzer cooperative.

Thanks to their hard work and efficient organization, the Mennonites have managed to make Loma Plata a prosperous town where common rules are widely respected, such as wearing helmets, even by the people of various backgrounds who have come to live in Loma Plata.

Tourism is beginning to be a development factor, following the improvement of driving conditions on the Trans-Chaco Highway and the broadening of travellers’ interests. Whether it is the visits to successful industries whose brands are known beyond Paraguay, curiosity about the Mennonite lifestyle or the distinctive natural features of the Chaco, tourists have many reasons to be attracted to the region.

Wild animals are not always easy to spot in the wild, here a capybara, the largest of the rodents with a predilection for water and weighing up to 90 kilos.

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