By Press TV
In order to widen the scope of distribution, the Venezuelan government intends to increase food supply up to reach 50% of the Venezuelan population. At the moment, it only reaches 44%. Through state distribution networks in the form of small and big markets, Venezuelan people are able to get a range of basic products at affordable costs.
During the 2001 oil strike, food and products in general became scarce. This raised the need to guarantee food sovereignty in the country as the government realized food production networks were in the hands of only private companies.
Three main networks of markets have been created: Pdval, Mercal, and Bicentennial Supermarkets, which are entirely subsidised by the government. These networks have faced serious opposition since many believe it only benefits people from lower strata as stores are located only in poor areas. Also, some findings indicate almost 800,000 people stopped purchasing products in Pdval and Mercal in 2010. It is believed this responds to the consistent lack of products and the excessive amount of imported goods.
According to the National Institute of Statistics, poverty in Venezuela has declined in recent years due to social policies undertaken by the Venezuelan government. The Institute holds that chronic poverty stood at 20.2 percent in 2002 and it has been reduced to 11.6 percent ever since.
Some people believe that the current economic conditions in Venezuela have forced traders to increase prices, which has caused shortages of goods and services; but for others, the state food network has provided them with a more convenient alternative that guarantees the supply of everything they need.
Venezuelan agricultural development guarantees food sovereignty
By Dianne James
Food Sovereignty Venezuela
Over 75% of the Venezuelan population is located in the northern coast, where cities and industrial centers have been settled and designed with a purely capitalist concept of development since the colonial era.
Likewise, the agrarian Venezuela, which stood out thanks to the world’s best coffee and cocoa, was left behind and forgotten once oil was discovered. The discovery of oil, and its excessive exploitation without any social investment, turned Venezuela into an oil-producing country primarily.
The country was abandoned while the “black gold” (as oil was called) was the most important thing to former governments and it prevented Venezuela from encouraging any other options for development. Transnational companies exploited the coveted mineral without any control at symbolic prices.
This situation resulted in a rural flight, that is to say, the migration of rural populations to “development” centers to find a better standard of living. The aforementioned neoliberal policies led to the overpopulation of the northern-central coast and the abandoning of rural areas as an economic development alternative, thus forcing the state to import over 80 percent of the food consumed by Venezuelans.
In this sense, President Hugo Chávez said: “Now we have to use the oil wealth in a rational, sovereign way, and manage it with transparency, as a lever for social and economic development (…) We will be free. If we want to, we will do it “.
The Bolivarian Government, through the Ministry of People’s Power for Agriculture and Lands (MPPAT) launched a series of initiatives to address this reality that undermines the country’s future and the food sovereignty of all Venezuelans.
Recently, Mission Agrovenezuela was launched in order to promote Venezuela’s rural development and guarantee food sovereignty. This project also aims to boost public, security and food-sovereignty policies, the investment in strategic sectors, and the increase of sown areas and domestic production.
The Minister of People’s Power for Agriculture and Lands, Juan Carlos Loyo, assures that the land redistribution for agricultural development is one of the most important achievements of the Venezuelan government in the last 12 years. According to Loyo, the Bolivarian Revolution broke the monopoly of the private agroindustry, which indiscriminately supported the import of products and marginalized farmers.
Support and funding for rural producers
Rural producers now rely on the Agricultural Bank of Venezuela (BAV, Spanish acronym) to promote the social and economic development of the country. They can receive agricultural fundings at low interest rates and guidance to guarantee the success of their productive projects.
The MPPAT Deputy Minister of Rural Development, Danixce Aponte, said that the BAV’s main goal is to dignify the work of farmers. “We want to enhance the activity of a producer who has always sown and did not not always have the opportunity to obtain credits.”
Likewise, the President of the Food Corporation, Juan Carlos Jimenez, indicates that nearly 600 thousand small and medium producers have registered in this program.
Read more at Food Sovereignty Venezuela