Food sovereignty is a mere formality

Warning: The criollo elements of this pabellón may differ.

Warning: The criollo elements of this pabellon may differ.

For quite some time, the Chavernment has sold us the premise that Venezuela is pretty strong in food sovereignty. But in the last few weeks, the wave of shortages has put that concept to the test at home, forcing Vice-President Nicolas Maduro to get personally involved and launch a new plan in response.

Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic’s Agriculture Ministry confirmed last week what we all know: our food sovereignty is a mirage:

“…(Dominican) Agriculture Minister Luis Ramón Rodríguez announced that the Dominican Republic will produce more than 10 thousand tons of black beans in the year 2013 to be exported to Venezuela, as part of the Petrocaribe Accord, suscribed with that nation years ago…”

Those caraotas in your pabellón criollo (one of our main national dishes) are probably not that criollas. Neither is the white rice, which may have come from the Empire itself, or the meat needed to make shredded beef, thanks to the almost 200% growth in foreign imports last year alone. National producers cannot even get close to compete in the same levels.

What about the plantain to make tajadas? Well, it could still be criollo after all, but local production had some setbacks and now we have to share some of that with Russia.

Even if the Chavernment insists in denying it, its policy of bringing in massive food imports has undermined the so-called “sovereignty” and hurt our domestic sector. Instead, the partners in Petrocaribe, ALBA and Mercosur are reaping the benefits of those sweet “oil-for-stuff” deals.

And then, I realize that Quico’s definition of the Maduro Doctrine also applies here.

Here’s the Article 305 of the Constitution, regarding the State’s role in food security:

“…and consequently shall guarantee the population a secure food supply, defined as the sufficient and stable availability of food within the national sphere and timely and uninterrupted access to the same for consumers. A secure food supply must be achieved by developing and prioritizing internal agricultural and livestock production, understood as production deriving from the activities of agriculture, livestock, fishing and aquiculture. Food production is in the national interest and is fundamental to the economic and social development of the Nation.”

Does the current food policy match those guidelines? Not really. In the end, they are just simple formalities.

The State indicate otherwise. So, let’s better ask some ordinary folks about that…

30 thoughts on “Food sovereignty is a mere formality

    • Yes, get a clue. The government imports coffee and 10000 tons of beans because they are producing so much more.

      The same government that said we had 17 million tourists last year sure is incapable of giving innacurate numbers.

      I know you’re going to say I claim the numbers are BS cuz the evidence is against me. Show us by how much food consumption has increased in Venezuela in the last 5 years. THEN you can claim there’s food shortages because of increased consumption

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    • Because the lot of the poor has been improved so much that they are eating better and more. There’s a growing population and much more disposable income/subsidised food, so demand is obviously much higher.

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    • Government agricultural statistics are a complete fiction. During the presidential election campaign, Elias Jaua called Henrique Capriles ‘ignorant’ for claiming that Venezuela imports corn. ‘La cachapa que se come en Venezuela es nacional,’ he said, adding that, ‘ningun pais del mundo exporta jojoto [corn cobs]‘. It is Jaua who is ignorant – wilfully so. Cachapas are made with yellow corn (much of which is also imported, incidentally, but for animal feed). The important corn for human consumption is white corn, which is used to make the pre-cooked corn flour that goes into arepas.

      Ask the Mexicans – who exported 450,000 tons of white corn to Venezuela in 2012 – whether Venezuela is self-sufficient in that. They are projecting Venezuela’s white corn shortfall to reach a million tons very soon (out of total annual consumption of around 1.5m tons). Of course no country ‘exports corn cobs’! Similarly, the government has claimed self-sufficiency in rice, of which hundreds of thousands of tons are also imported annually, in contrast to the rice surplus that existed when Chavez came to power.

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      • Actually many countries export corn cob: it is used in meal form as a cheap source (and low value nutritionally) fibre in fodder diets and as a filler/carrier in many feed additives.

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        • Sorry, I mistranslated the word – but I think it’s clear that what Jaua meant was the cob with all the grains on it. Otherwise it doesn’t make any sense. That was what I meant by saying no one exports them. The grains are separated from the cob before either is exported.

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            • Of course anyone can just claim the statistics are false. But no one will take you seriously. Even the opposition-aligned Fedeagro accepts these statistics.

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              • I didn’t ‘just claim the statistics are false’. I gave you an example of a blatant lie about one particular crop – corn – by the man most responsible for Venezuela’s current lack of so-called ‘food sovereignty’ (a dubious term in itself, but one the government continually uses).

                Jaua insists Venezuela is self-sufficient in corn. It is not. Capriles is right: Venezuela imports hundreds of thousands of tons of corn. I also mentioned rice. When Chavez came to power there was a surplus of rice, enough to export a relatively small amount. In recent years, however, hundreds of thousands of tons of rice have also been imported. A very large part of that has ended up in neighbouring Colombia – bought at subsidised prices here and smuggled, with the complicity of the Venezuelan military, across the border.

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              • So, we can look at the official statistics, which are accepted by organizations like Fedeagro, and the World Bank, or we can just listen to what one guy baselessly asserts in the comments section of a blog.

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              • The fact that Fedeagro reproduces official figures on its website doesn’t mean they ‘accept’ them. I refer you for instance to the opinion of Roberto Latini, Fedeagro’s spokesman on corn, as recently as November this year (http://informe21.com/economia/maiz-importado-“abarrota”-la-agroindustria). Latini says production has been falling, which is why the government has had to import.

                You might also want to have a look at this interview (http://www.25segundos.com/?id=15874&ids=1&accion=deta) with Fedeagro’s ex-president, on how food consumption has actually declined, due to inflation and production problems. That is if you’re really interested in the truth of the matter, rather than simply defending the government, right or wrong.

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              • Your own article shows that their estimates are in line with official statistics. He cites white corn reaching nearly 1.4 million tons. White corn makes up about half of total corn production in Venezuela. Do the math.

                Or, if you’re too lazy to do the math, just look here where the president of Fedeagro confirms the official statistics:

                http://www.fedeagro.org/detalle.asp?id=188

                Now run along and spout nonsense somewhere else. We’re all stocked up here.

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              • Oh, and the nonsense about consumption declining is really funny, given that they themselves have confirmed that corn production is nearly twice as much as it was before Chavez, and the country still has to import corn to meet demand. So who’s eating all that corn??

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              • Are you referring to this: ‘Las cifras que se arrojan de balance de producción no llegan a completar el millón 400 mil toneladas que necesita la industria de harina precocida, lógicamente tiene que haber una importación y eso lo maneja el gobierno y no el sector productor”, dijo.’? What that means, in case it’s not clear, is that domestic production doesn’t cover the 1.4m tons required by the harina precocida industry, and that therefore the government is importing corn.

                As a matter of fact, it falls well below requirements, which is why 15 ships from Sinaloa in Mexico, each carrying 30,000 tons of white corn, docked in Venezuelan ports last year. Assuming none came from anywhere else, that’s a total of 450,000 tons of imported white corn in 2012, not mentioned anywhere by the Venezuelan government, but confirmed by many different sources, including the Mexican embassy. Are you denying the shortfall and the imports, as Jaua does? Or do you agree with me, and Latini from Fedeagro, that Venezuela is NOT self-sufficient in this most basic of staple foods, the fundamental ingredient for arepas. And hence that Jaua is a liar. It’s one or the other, GAC.

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    • In related news, Comrade Stalin pointed to great advances in the production of meats and vegetables and promised that capitalism would be surpassed in 1950 at the latest.

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  1. Never mind the food. Just make sure the subsidized imports of whisky keep coming. Which article in the Constitution is that? What? It’s not??… Well, it should be and we’ll just pretend it is. It’s only a formality anyway.

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  2. You have nailed what’s wrong with this Constitution, right in the head. And maybe Maduro and rest of Sociolistos realize how ludicrous it is too. It contains so many fantastic and bizarre tasks for the State and so many of those idiotic “rights” that come to think of it, they are meaningless. Sometimes it reminds me of the demands for rights by one of the resistance fighters who is a man, in AD 29: “I want to have babies”, though it’s clearly impossible that a right for it or a decree or whatever shall make it reality. Really, to demand those from the government is rather silly. They could be policy directives, statements of purpose or whatever, not actual articles stating rights that you have to punish someone in the government for “violating”.

    Of course that should never mean that one can ignore the parts of the Constitution that state clearly rights that can be violated by the State, or limits to power and terms. If it says January 10 it says January 10. If it’s in a seat of Venezuelan power, it means just that and in front of the powers of the State it means them.

    Of course if we refer to the present situation, it’s really moot.

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  3. I’m afraid the credibility of the regimes statistics is not very high , by way of example , Pdvsa declares oil production as 3.2 million bls per day, yet international agencies steadily report them to be closer to 2.3 million bls per day , signaling a whooping 900.000 bl a day difference . Every time my wife returns from the market or the drugstore and complains about how prices have risen , I jokingly refer her to the official statistics which causes her to explode with multiple examples where the increased prices are way above the official stats. The trolls either never go to the market or dont live in Venezuela ,, otherwise they would be too embarrased to celebrate official statistics to show what great managers the Chavez regime has.

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    • Not to mention our all-time favourite: “Barrio Adentro has saved more than two million lives”. Any government capable of repeating garbage like this has a serious credibility problem.

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      • Or: Barrio Adentro giving medical attention to 25 or 30 million people per year… According to that, the country, the WHOLE country is sick. Oh wait! it is sick!

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  4. While official statistics suffer from a serious credibility problem , there may be some truth to the trolls assertion that consumption levels have risen thus aggravating the scarcity of some food items. , Why have they risen ? because the government (i) heavily subsidizes the price of food imports and (ii) because it applies price controls or pricing policies to both private and public producers which sets them at a below cost levels , the cost of these measures to the government finances and to the national economy translate into deep economic imbalances and exploding inflation that ultimately cause more harm to the general population than the benefit of being temporarily able to increase its consumption of some staples. Another factor which merits attention is the great mismanagament and corruption which characterizes the way the regime handles both food imports and domestic distribution of food staples . Pudreval is just one example of this situation. There are others which have never surfaced and which would put the readers hair on edge if they ever became public.

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