Caracas, January 30, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— According to Venezuela’s Minister of Land and Agriculture, Elias Jaua, President Chavez approved of an additional $800 million for supporting agriculture in Venezuela, which represents an increase of more than triple the currently budgeted amount. Also, Jaua announced that in 2007 over 2 million hectares of land would be “recovered” for agricultural production and that the volume of agricultural products would increase by 26% relative to 2006.
Jaua made the announcements during a press conference on Monday, in which he detailed the government’s agricultural plans for 2007.
The increase in spending on agriculture, which will jump from the budgeted $350 million to about $1.1 billion will be used to help finance 270,000 small farmers and 25,000 ranchers. Also, of that amount, $700 million have been set aside for improving agricultural infrastructure, in the form of 4,600 kilometers of roads, so as to help get agricultural products to market. Another portion, $325 million, has been designated for animal and vegetal health.
With regard to the area that the ministry has recovered for agricultural production, Jaua said that in 2006 1.5 million hectares were made available, of which about half is now being cultivated, out of a total of 2.4 million hectares that are now in production. The amount of land being cultivated thus increased by over 40% (from 1.7 million hectares to 2.4 million) in 2006.
For 2007 the government plans on recovering another 2 million hectares, via its land reform program. This way, says Jaua, the government’s goal of increasing production from 18 million tons to 23 million tons, or 26% above the production of 2006, can be reached.
Goals Not Reached in 2006
During his weekly television program last Sunday, President Chavez lamented that many of his government’s agricultural production goals for 2006 were not reached, such as in the areas of beans, cotton, soy, sunflower, peanuts, and sugar.
“Do you know how far we got with beans in relation to the goal for 2006?” asked Chavez during his program. “Barely 25.2%.” Even lower results were achieved in sunflower and peanut production.
Chavez explained that this was mostly due to the goal having been too ambitious. “In 2005 we harvested 18,900 tons [of beans] and the goal for 2006 we placed at 43,900 tons.”
Jaua explained yesterday that another reason for the low fulfillment of production goals had to do with the poor weather in 2006. According to Jaua, the rainy season lasted well into December this year, about two months longer than usual.
Another problem, said Jaua, is that there were insufficient roads to work the lands that are supposed to be under cultivation, which is why for 2007 the government is launching a massive road construction program in the countryside.