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Agroecology vs economic sanctions against Venezuela

In the face of the siege against Venezuela on the part of the United States government, the current situation in the country demands bold alternatives for food production in response to destabilising market activity.

 

Lisbet Rodríguez Candelaria

 

In order to tackle Washington’s coercive measures that generate millions in losses and hinder the acquisition of agricultural inputs to meet the needs of the people, the    Bolivarian Executive is working on building a national agroecological movement with a view to reconfiguring the food landscape.

This objective requires a meeting between key social and institutional players to promote strategies that allow for the widespread application of agroecology, the study of ecological processes applied to agricultural production systems. The III Venezuelan Congress of Agroecology will be held from 17 to 19 October at the National Experimental University of the Arts in Caracas, and will focus on providing solutions to the current problems affecting the food system in the South American country.

One of the objectives of this event is to determine the necessary factors to create agrifood systems to protect the life and health of the planet, said Dayana Otriz, professor at the Bolivarian University of Venezuela, in an interview with Prensa Latina.

Another goal is the collective creation of agroecological networks in the territories by collaborating with communes, social movements and other forms of both urban and rural organisation.

The format of the congress entails three aspects that intersect as alternative agrifood systems.

In this regard, practical measures are particularly important, including the production of bio-inputs and local storage of seeds, in addition to the experiences of organising production and the knowledge gained as a result of such learning processes, Ortiz explained.

The member of the Venezuelan Association of Agroecology also mentioned that the emerging topics of the forum include agroecological design and management, the challenges, possibilities and limitations of this system, as well as the control of insects and diseases.

Roots

Agricultural activity in the country has undergone some unusual changes within the Latin American subregion, especially for a long period during the twentieth century and thus far this century, said Francisco Herrera, a specialist at the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research.

Some of the causes of these changes are the high influence of oil income that distorts the country’s productive, social and cultural economic activity, which is notable in agriculture. Meanwhile, the population’s food needs have been met through imports, he commented.

Herrera said that the South American nation is currently undergoing a process of transformation based on a new institutional framework, which has taken place in two phases according to agrifood policies.

The first one has been underway since 1999, with the Constitution of the Republic, which establishes the role of the State in promoting sustainable agriculture, until the 2002 oil strike, which is characterised by high levels of imports of agrifoods.

According to the doctor in Ecology, the second stage began from 2003 onwards, when the government adopted measures within the framework of the Endogenous Development Plan, which would give priority to internal production.

This saw increased participation from the State in the economy and particularly in the processes of production, transformation, distribution and consumption of agrifoods.

The achievements in the country over the last two decades have been of benefit to urban and peasant social movements as they promote public policies that favour rural sustainability as a fundamental link in the construction of a new agroecological hegemonic thinking, states Herrera.

Towards an agroecological society

The III Venezuelan Congress of Agroecology aims to be a space that serves to encourage key participants and social forces to promote agricultural activity within their communities.

This edition of the congress is open and inclusive, emphasised Ortiz, with the expected participants being students, farmers, academics, and members of the popular food, rural and urban organisations and movements.

The event activities include round tables and trade fairs featuring peasant seeds and agroecological products, among others.

This third edition proposes the creation of an agroecological movement to generate planning at national level and support local initiatives with the aim to influence future public policies in the agricultural models of Venezuela, said the specialist. (PL)

(Translated by Lucy Daghorn – Email: lucy.daghorn@gmail.com) – Photos: Pixabay

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