August 13, 2008

 

Venezuela tightens grip on agriculture with new laws, creates reserves 

 
 

Last week, Venezuela issued 26 new decrees, five of which have a direct impact on agricultural production and trade, the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service reported.

 

In January when the country suffered from milk shortages, President Hugo Chavez accused private diaries of hoarding milk to destabilise the government. It then issued a threat that it would seize hoarding diaries. In farm visits back then, the president proposed the creation of agricultural districts under which farmers and government officials would work together to boost agricultural output through centralised planning.


According to statements made by the Venezuelan vice-minister of agriculture, the government would increase its role in the agricultural sector: the distribution and trade of agricultural products will be controlled by the government via a new Law of Food Security and Sovereignty.

 

The law calls for the state to keep reserves of key food products and guarantee that 90 days-worth of food consumption is held domestically. This reserve will be held by state organisations.

 

The law also calls for the elimination of national advisory boards and transfers their advisory function to farm workers.

 

The law will formalize an institution called the National Balance Center, to analyse food consumption, production, and advise on food imports.

 

According to Pablo Baraybar, president of the Venezuelan Food Industry Chamber, CAVIDEA, the laws were not discussed with agricultural producers or food industry sectors, and they were surprised that 26 laws were not submitted for any discussion with the economic sectors.

 

Although CAVIDEA has submitted proposals to develop the food industry sector, none of the projects sent have been taken into account, according to Baraybar.

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