May 8, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)—Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro proposed that Latin American countries create a food bank to counter food supply problems and that oil profits of the region go towards a new food fund. Maduro made the proposal during the Food summit held in Nicaragua on Wednesday.
Maduro explained that the Venezuelan government would commit itself to the creation of a food bank by beginning with a contribution of seeds, fertilizers, and other agricultural inputs.
Maduro also proposed a “special plan” that would be part of the regional oil accords known as Petrocaribe, which Venezuela had launched in 2005. The plan would involve redirecting a portion of the program’s oil profits to fund agricultural investment. Currently, as part of the Petrocaribe agreement, Venezuela provides oil to almost all Caribbean nations with low-interest financing.
Venezuela plans to invite regional producers of oil and gas, such as Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, and Bolivia, to a summit to discuss broadening this proposal for the entire region.
The proposal aims to “find a formula, starting from the production level and the oil price … that would allow the creation of a special shared agriculture-oil fund … on the basis of cooperation and the realities and possibilities of each country,” said Maduro.
Venezuela has already set aside $100 million for this project, which would allow the purchasing of corn, beans, and rice.
Finally, Maduro added that Venezuela is proposing that lands confiscated from drug lords should be used to increase agricultural production of legal crops. Maduro mentioned that as part of Venezuela’s land reform Venezuela has already turned over 20 confiscated haciendas that were involved in drug production to agricultural cooperatives that are beneficiaries of the land reform.
The host of the food summit, Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, said that Venezuela’s willingness to share its riches with other countries must be recognized. “One must recognize … the attitude of Venezuela, in contrast to the government of the United States. Venezuela has made its resources available, its riches, to share with the Latin American and Caribbean people,” said Ortega after the summit.