By José Luis Granados Ceja
CARACAS, (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro has announced the creation of a new fund for campesinos and rural producers to help improve food production.
He made the pledge during the close of the Great Congress of Campesinos, Fishermen and Rural Producers that gathered hundreds of activists.
“We are advancing the agricultural and livestock plan with two very solid strategic objectives: to achieve 100 percent food sovereignty in Venezuela and to secure Venezuela as a strong food exporter to the world by 2030,” said Maduro at the Barquisimeto Bicentennial Fair Complex in Lara state.
Widely seen as a core constituency of the Bolivarian Revolution, relations between campesinos and the Venezuelan government had become strained as the rural workers suffered as a result of the sharp economic decline under US-led sanctions on the country. Venezuelan campesino organizations recently staged a number of protests to demand changes in state policies that favor large-scale producers and agribusiness corporations.
The Venezuelan government has recently taken to attending to these longstanding demands from the countryside, with Maduro also pledging to tackle fuel shortages that negatively affect workers. State oil company PDVSA recently secured improved terms in swap deals with Italy’s Eni and Spain’s Repsol that are expected to help meet gasoline and diesel demand in the country.
In July, PDVSA proposed to set diesel prices at $0.30 per liter. However, it later set the price at 3 bolívars per liter (around $0.10) following complaints from agricultural and industrial producers. Diesel had previously been subsidized but scarcity led to smuggling practices and a lack of transparency in assigning quotas.
The meeting with campesinos and fisherman saw Maduro receive and approve a number of proposals from popular organizations that had previously held working groups with representatives from state institutions.
“We are in a recovery phase after an unrelenting, dirty and perverse war against our workers and business people,” stated the Venezuelan president.
The new funding program called the 2030 Fund, will have a modest sum of US $5 million at its disposal to be dispersed to rural producers. However, the Venezuelan president said the money would be eligible for renewal once the initial funding is exhausted.
The aim of the credit program is to increase the productive capacity of Venezuela’s countryside in order to secure food sovereignty, a concept that refers to a country’s capacity to produce sufficient food domestically to meet internal demand.
Venezuela’s food production has historically been characterized by distribution monopolies as well as a high degree of dependence on imports. With US sanctions severely curtailing Venezuela’s ability to sell oil in international markets the country has been forced to diversify its economy in addition to efforts to increase food production as a result of a drop in the country’s import capacity.
Maduro also pointed to Venezuela’s potential to become a food exporter to countries that make up the BRICS bloc.
“With the BRICS bloc alone we have more than 4.2 billion people. These are gigantic markets, imagine us exporting meats, eggs, cheeses, seafood to those countries,” said Maduro during his weekly television program.
During the XV BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa last month President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Iran would join the bloc made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Venezuela did not make the cut in this first phase of the bloc’s expansion process but the country nonetheless celebrated the consolidation of the multipolar world.
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