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FAO: Venezuela set to successfully face food crisis

“Venezuela, like other Latin American and Caribbean countries, is ready to successfully respond to the current food crisis, and other that may arise, thanks to the institutionalization of food security in the region,” said the representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Venezuela, Francisco Roberto Arias.

In this sense, Arias highlighted the programs to increase domestic agricultural production that are contributing a greater amount of food to the domestic market, which will prevent the need to import and depend on the volatile prices in international markets.

“The FAO acknowledges the efforts made by the Venezuelan government to implement policies, strategies and programs to face the world economic crisis and the volatility of food prices, while maintaining the food and nutritional security of the Venezuelan people,” Arias pointed out. 

The FAO representative explained that the Venezuelan strategy features two elements similar to the proposal the FAO has been promoting for some years now: the strengthening of social networks and promotion of domestic food production. 

“Venezuela has implemented strategies including the strengthening of social networks such as Mercal, Pdval and soup kitchens, which aim to allow the most vulnerable sectors of society to have greater access to food,” he explained.

The second element “is the promotion of domestic food production by increasing investment in this sector, organizing producers, increasing access to land and especially support provided to family farming, which has two aims: to produce food to meet the family’s demands, and, through the surplus entering the markets, to generate profits so that families can access food they do not produce,” he added.

Arias made it clear that Latin America and the Caribbean are adopting different policies to stop a possible step backward in the food security achieved so far, which would be directly caused by the world economic crisis affecting the region and the volatility of food prices.

“We think there is a group of countries, including Venezuela, that are in a better position to face this crisis and any other contingency that may come up,” he stated.

In the last decade, food production increased by 24 percent, and in 2008 it increased by 3 percent according to the Ministry of People’s Power for Agriculture and Lands.

The evolution of production of main food stuffs over the past decade is shown by data released last year:

-Rice: Production has grown by 94 percent from 383,000 tons in 1998 to 1,360,000 tons in 2008. It has grown by 27 percent this year.

-Corn: After corn production experienced negative growth between 1988 and 1998, in the last decade it has grown by 205 percent, thus reaching almost 3 million tons (white and yellow corn) this year. Regarding white corn, the country is self-sufficient, and regarding yellow corn, the country produces 50 percent of its supply.

-Sugar cane: Production of sugar cane had dropped by 3 percent in the previous decade. Between 1999 and 2008, it increased by 13 percent; it has not further increased due to the lack of the country’s processing capacity, a situation that should be changed in 2009 with the activation of the Ezequiel Zamora Sugar Processing Complex.

-Coffee: Production of coffee had dropped by 6 percent between 1988 and 1998. In the last ten years, its production has increased by 8 percent, with which the country has become self-sufficient.

-Milk: Production of milk stepped up from 1,000 million liters in the previous decade to 2,000 million liters; it has increased 11 percent in the last year. Current milk supply in Venezuela reaches 55 percent.

Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias, Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Press Office / February 26, 2009

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