President Chavez Highlights Venezuela’s New Agricultural Model

President Hugo Chavez inaugurated a new "socialist" corn flour processing plant to be supplied by increased national corn production and emphasized the development of a new model of sustainable agriculture in the country during his weekly TV program on Sunday.

Mérida, September 3, 2007 ( — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez spoke of the construction of a new economic model in the country on his TV and radio program Aló Presidente on Sunday. During the program, Chavez inaugurated a new "socialist" corn flour processing plant to be supplied by increased national corn production and emphasized the development of a new model of sustainable agriculture in the country.

"We are building a new economic model and this is a historic moment in our national economic history," said Chavez during his nationally televised show. From the western agricultural state of Yaracuy, Chavez focused on the recuperation of Venezuela's productive lands and the increased agricultural production that has resulted.

"100 years of oil production and our countryside was abandoned and left in hands of large estate owners, destructors of the land, polluters of the water and soil," he said.

One of the objectives of the Chavez government has been to promote the production and consumption of corn in place of wheat consumption which is largely imported. Chavez pointed out that wheat is of European origin and was first brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Corn, on the other hand, originated from the Americas and is produced locally.

Chavez pointed out that Venezuela is now self-sufficient in corn production thanks to the agricultural policies of his government that have doubled production in the last 8 years. Currently Venezuelan production supplies 98 percent of national consumption of yellow corn and 100 percent of white corn.

"When our government began Venezuela produced around a million tons of corn per year. Today we are producing almost two million 400 thousands tons," he explained.

The construction of corn flour processing plants across the country is part of this policy to increase national production. Each processing plant will guarantee a market for local producers who will supply the plants. President Chavez inaugurated the first of these processing plants yesterday in Yaracuy and stated that the government plans to have 10 of these plants inaugurated by early 2008.

The plants will take locally produced corn and process it into precooked corn flour for use in making Venezuela's staple food, the arepa. According to Chavez, each plant will have the capacity to process 1 percent of total national production. The flour will be processed, packaged, and placed in the market under the brand "Socialist Venezuela."

"This is going to be very important to break the control of the monopolies and lower costs," he said. "We have to push these plants to their maximum capacity in the shortest time possible."

These processing plants are being built jointly by the Venezuelan government and the government of Iran. As with other industries being promoted by the Chavez government, these plants are a product of the economic cooperation between Iran and Venezuela and use Iranian technology and expertise for their construction.

The plant inaugurated yesterday by the Venezuelan president will provide an immediate 98 jobs, and will benefit nearly 300 corn producers in the region. Workers present at the inauguration expressed their satisfaction with the new plant in their community and called it a "model for the world."

"I am sure that this new socialist economic model will set an example for the rest of the world," said Milexi Gudiño, one of the operators of the plant. "Those of us who are here today were nominated by our communities to do a job not oriented to enrich some economic group, as happens with capitalist companies, but rather to guarantee our community's food supply," she said.

Gudiño pointed out that the country was building a new socialist economic model and assured that everyone will be able to participate in the production of the nation's food supply.

Minister of Agriculture Elias Jaua explained that the increased agricultural production in the country was due to the government's policies against the concentrated ownership of the land, state financing of production, and increased technology at the service of producers.

Jaua explained that all producers are financed by Fondafa, the development fund for agriculture, fishing, and forestry. He emphasized the importance of organizing national producers in order to develop a new agricultural model.