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Agriculture in Venezuela

Agriculture in Venezuela has a much smaller share of the economy than in any other Latin American country. From the discovery of oil in Venezuela in the early twentieth century to the 1940s, the importance of agriculture declined rapidly, and with the beginning of large-scale industrial development in the 1940s, agriculture and land reform was largely neglected by successive governments. The country imports most of its food, mainly from Colombia and the United States. Since 1999, under the Bolivarian Revolution of President Hugo Chavez, agriculture has had a somewhat higher priority.


Prior to the 1950s and the initiation of large-scale oil exports, agriculture, fishing, and forestry were central to the Venezuelan economy, producing more than half the gross domestic product (GDP). As late as the 1930s, agriculture still provided 22 percent of GDP and occupied 60 percent of the labor force. As the petrochemical industry expanded rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s, however, the proportion of the labor force in agriculture dropped from one-fifth to about one-tenth. By 1988 agriculture contributed only 5.9 percent of GDP, employed 13 percent of the labor force, and furnished barely 1 percent of total exports. Agriculture has continued to decline, accounting for about 5 percent of GDP and 10 percent of employment in 2004. Venezuela country profile. Library of Congress Federal Research Division (March 2005). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain. According to a 1997 government survey, 3.4m hectares of land are suitable for farming (and a further 17.1m hectares suitable for pasture) - but only 0.7m hectares were employed in grain production.

Bolivarian Revolution

Venezuelas present-day agriculture is characterized by inefficiency and low investment, with 70 percent of agricultural land owned by 3 percent of agricultural proprietors (one of the highest levels of land concentration in Latin America). According to the Land and Agricultural Reform Law of 2001 (see Mission Zamora), public and private land deemed to be illegally held or unproductive is to be redistributed. From 1999 to 2006, 130 landless workers were assassinated by sicarios paid by opponents to the reform. Maurice Lemoine, Venezuela: the promise of land for the people, Le Monde diplomatique, October 2003 ///

A new Bolivarian Mission, Mission Vuelta al Campo was announced in 2005; it seeks to encourage impoverished and unemployed urban Venezuelans to willingly return to the countryside. This has involved using land recovered from private owners where ownership could not be demonstrated, as well as nationalisation. For example in 2008 the government expropriated El Frio, a 63,000 hectare estate in Apure (larger than the tourist island of Isla Margarita), as its owners (reputed to include Nelson Rockefeller) could not demonstrate legal land title.Venezuelanalysis, 8 September 2008, Venezuelan Government Turns Large Estates Into Socialist Production Centers The Venezuelan government has also employed foreign expertise to develop Venezuela's agricultural potential, for example by working with Vietnamese agronomists to develop planting techniques and rice seed hybrids appropriate to Venezuelan agricultural conditions.Venezuelanalysis, 15 May 2009, Venezuela Uses Recovered Land to Plant Rice with Vietnamese Assistance

External links

In Venezuela, Land Redistribution Program Backfires by Juan Forero, NPR, July 15 2009

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Agriculture in Venezuela

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