The Venezuelan government will incorporate the large estate “El Frio,” in the state of Apure, into the units of socialist livestock and agricultural production, after recovering it through the National Land Institute (INTI).
President Hugo Chavez informed the Venezuelan people of the details of this through his weekly program, “Alo Presidente” this past Sunday, which was transmitted from another large farm, “El Cedral,” an estate of 56,000 hectares that the government will also convert into a socialist production center, after having negotiated its sale with its private owners.
The difference between El Cedral and El Frio is that El Frio, with a size of 63,123 hectares, has not been negotiated for, but was recuperated by virtue of a lack of documentation certifying ownership of the land.
The first stage in its recuperation began on September 15 of last year, when US$7 million was invested in order to increase the amount of cattle. The aim is to go from 18,000 heads to 27,000 in 5 years. To achieve this it will be necessary to plant 8,500 hectares of pasture.
El Frio, which is larger than the island of Margarita (a famous Venezuelan tourist island), is owned by the company Invega. According to National Assembly representative Cristobal Jimenez, Nelson Rockefeller was a stock holder in this company. He was US vice-president from 1974-1977 and his grandfather, John Rockefeller was the founder of Standard Oil, which later became ExxonMobil.
El Cedral was owned by a group of university lecturers, who used it for ecotourism and sheep farming. There were 0.3 sheep per hectare.
“That’s nothing!” said Chavez.
Luz Torrealba, the president of the socialist cattle company Santos Luzardo, explained that these farms will become taxed productive units that will make up the company.
Santos Luzardo administers 24 farms across the country and is hoping to increase that number to 35 by the end of the year.
One of the problems with these lands is that they are flooded during part of the year and dry for the other part, due to a lack of irrigation channels. Fixing this would be one of the aims of the government.
The ecotourism projects would also be maintained, as the agreement reached with the old owners of Cedral was a friendly one, and the government will work in an alliance with them (with the private owners having a participation of 10% and the state 90%). The socialist project would also include the raising of cows and buffalo and agro-tourism
Chavez assured that these plans would be implemented according to the Organic Law for Food Security and Sovereignty, which establishes that the whole productive chain should be planned through agrarian assemblies.
Chavez reiterated the government’s determination to prioritise agricultural development.
“It is fundamental that through the development of the land in the agricultural sector, we establish social justice and the unity that should exist in our nation.”
The aim is to bring the number of cattle nationally to 16 million, in order to cover the demand for meat and milk. From 2007 to the first half of 2008 meat and milk production has grown by 10%.
“We must interrelate the components necessary for the creation of a new economic system,” he explained. He also emphasised the urgent need to maintain agrarian funds to propel the economy of the country, and to guarantee food security and sovereignty.
“It is necessary to leave the individualist model and work united. Personal projects can’t exist, here we have a revolution based on one government only, to continue guaranteeing food sovereignty of the people by the means of socialism.”
“In Venezuela we must increase production in all food sectors. We will continue driving the agrarian revolution.”
Chavez made a general call to all institutions and sectors involved in such projects to be efficient and transparent in order to guarantee productivity, and for the sake of counteracting opposition sectors that seek to sustain the incapacity of the state in its administration of strategic resources, including land.
Chavez also said that whilst Venezuela has petroleum for “more than 100 years”, one day it will run out and it is important that the country not depend on petroleum.
Tamara Pearson writes for Venezuela Analysis.
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This post was written by Tamara Pearson