Venezuela Launches Agricultural Development Plan

Agrarian Socialism is the goal of the Venezuelan government's new Integral Agricultural Development Plan 2007-2008, announced the vice-minister of Agro-productive Circuits Tatiana Pugh.

Paraguaná, April 4, 2007 (– Agrarian Socialism is the goal of the Venezuelan government’s new Integral Agricultural Development Plan 2007-2008, said the vice-minister of Agro-productive Circuits Tatiana Pugh yesterday. President Hugo Chávez, first announced the launch of the new agricultural plan on his Television show Aló Presidente last week, which was carried forward yesterday with the announcement of new agricultural subsidies.

Tatiana Pugh, of the Ministry of Popular Power for Agriculture and Land, in an interview on the state channel Venezolana de Televisión (VTV) yesterday, said that the new plan has the purpose of increasing production in the agricultural sectors. But she emphasized that this will be done by a progressive change of the productive model.

The vice-minister stated that the construction of a new agricultural model in the country requires changes not only in the social relations, but also in technical relations. She said the plan will promote national agro-industry, improve roadways, and incorporate new areas into the irrigation system.

President Chávez announced the implementation of the new Agricultural plan on his television program Aló Presidente last week when he focused on the expropriation of 330,000 hectares (815,000 acres) of uncultivated land. The expropriation is one part of the larger plan to contribute to Venezuela’s "food sovereignty," which also includes state support for strategic food categories.

As part of the plan, new agricultural subsidies were announced yesterday for a number of agricultural goods. After a meeting of government ministers on Tuesday in Miraflores, a credit of 393.6 billion bolivars ($200 million) was announced to be given to the Ministry of Agricuture and Land to directly subsidize cotton, sugar cane, corn, rice and sorghum.  

The Minister of Popular Power for Finances Rodrigo Cabezas announced the subsidies yesterday explaining that the purpose is to guarantee that prices stay at the level of production.  He also said that the subsidies are part of the economic measures being taken as a part of the government’s Anti-inflationary Plan.

Agrarian Socialism

According to the vice-minister Tatiana Pugh, Agrarian Socialism means making the human being the center of the productive process, in opposition to the capitalist model that only focuses on production. But, along with this, she said the idea is to achieve self-sufficiency with regards to national food supply. This is done through the recuperation of unused land, financing, rehabilitation of infrastructure, and the transformation of products.

The plan is "for the development of a new model of sustainable agriculture, in other words, one that benefits human beings now and in future generations," said Pugh.

Pugh explained that Agrarian Socialism guarantees the inclusion of small producers that before were excluded by the capitalist model, but she assured that it does not leave out the large and medium producers.

The state should play a significant role in promoting production, according to the minister. "The land as a mode of social production doesn’t belong to anyone," she said "and the state must make sure that the land remains productive."

The vice-minister recalled that agriculture in Venezuela suffers from a number of problems as a result of the lack of attention and investment during the last few decades. Consequently, Venezuela currently imports around 70% of its food needs.

One of the aims of the Chavez government has been to increase agricultural production to reduce its reliance on imports. The vice-minister pointed out that if the current level of food production is compared to production in 1999 or 2001, there has been an important increase in the volume produced.

These problems take time to resolve, she said.  But "the conditions are being created to reduce imports more and more, and to supply all the domestic market with Venezuelan products," she assured.