“Since I’m a gardener, I met with the Minister of Urban Agriculture, Mayerlin Arias, and her staff. Venezuela is the only country that has an entire government ministry focused on rapidly developing urban agriculture.”
By Sara Flounders
April 4, 2019
(Please read critically. Mike)
Excerpted talk given March 21 at a Workers World Party meeting in New York City. The writer, the co-director of the International Action Center, was part of the March 9-18 delegation to Venezuela organized by the U.S. Peace Council
Microgardens are producing 25 percent of Venezuela’s food needs this year, using backyards, rooftops, vacant lots and small greenhouses covered with plastic tarps. It is projected they will produce 50 percent of the people’s food needs for the next three years.
Venezuela is near the equator; it has a warm climate and the ability to produce three or four crops a year. The challenge is that the population is 89 percent urban. In the past, the country imported more than two-thirds of its food. Agricultural production depended on imported seeds, feed and supplies from U.S. agribusiness corporations. Recent efforts aim to break free of relying on these imports.
The program of developing urban gardens has the ability to solve an immediate challenge. Thousands of small urban gardens are cutting out the wildly overpriced and corrupt underground market and the distribution networks of warehouses, supermarkets and shipping conglomerates — which are controlled by Venezuelan capitalists who are part of the anti-Maduro opposition and aligned with corporate U.S. They have used every trick to create continual shortages of essential goods.
Food production in thousands of local gardens also reduces refrigeration, transportation, storage and packaging costs. Through a network of thousands of community councils, the Ministry of Urban Agriculture provides technical support, seeds, soil, basic tools; advice on composting and pests; and conducts educational programs and cooking programs for residents.