The shortage of gasoline that has paralyzed Venezuela since May has forced dozens of Venezuelan agricultural producers to reduce their area of cultivation, farmer Joandry Santiago told the New York Times.
The agricultural industry is on the verge of collapse, threatening with “more hunger and malnutrition” a population where 50% eat fewer than three times a day, added Santiago, who was forced to abandon his crops. “Everything was lost,” he said.
Wealthy Venezuela, which has the world’s largest oil reserves, has become unable even to supply itself with fuel, due to the corruption of the oil industry and years of mismanagement by the Chavez and Maduro socialist governments.
The lack of gasoline first prevented farmers from transporting their fruits and vegetables to market, and has ended up preventing new crops from being sown.
Economists warned that this will cause a huge drop in food production, which will be almost impossible to replace with food from abroad.
Likewise, analysts denounced Maduro’s undermining the country’s private sector, with price controls, expropriations, and embezzlement of funds sanctioned by the State.
“The collapse is exponential,” said Aquiles Hopkins, president of Venezuela’s main agricultural association, Fedeagro. “The only possible explanation is that the government simply doesn’t care,” he said.
Fuel shortages have been the last straw in a Venezuela unable to produce or import what is needed to meet consumer demand, and empty food shelves are a consequence of all this.
In April 2018, Hopkins warned that Venezuelan agricultural production had been drastically. “We are supplying approximately between 20 and 25% of national consumption,” he said, according to VOA.
The destruction of the productive apparatus is attributed to the economic policies that have been in force in Venezuela for at least 18 years.
“A resounding change in the country’s agricultural policy, here we have to give back to the private sector the space it once occupied, let’s relax price controls with price control the people will not eat cheaper, on the contrary, let’s relax exchange controls,” Hopkins explained.
At that time, of the 3,500 companies that survived in Venezuela, there were “1,000 that see their existence threatened this coming year if the economic model is not changed because they are working in extremely precarious conditions,” said Carlos Larrazabal, president of the Federation of Chambers and Associations of Commerce and Production of Venezuela. “The companies cannot work at a loss for an indefinite period of time, they need a cash flow to be able to operate, and now, with hyperinflation and the lack of inputs, the companies are closing their doors.”
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