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According to figures from the Central Bank of Venezuela, so far this year, the agricultural sector has grown 8% in relation to 2003, informed Héctor Garzón, vice-minister of the Agricultural Circuits for Food Production, a dependency of the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture(MAT).

“The Special Cultivation Program (P2) has been the main drive for this increase, since nine crops were chosen for this program, in order to increase production and reduce imports”, he explained.

This program started out with the cultivation of more than 200,000 hectares of yellow corn, with an investment of 350 billion bolívares. The expected yield for this crop is 500,000 tons, an unprecedented amount in the history of national agriculture, which represents a 60% reduction of imports in this sector.

"We also have figures nearing 30% growth in crops like coffee, potato, and white corn; enough to supply the national market", he noted...Garzón announced that in the next three weeks, 30,000 hectares of black beans, 25,000 of kidney beans, and 26,000 of cotton would be planted.

As for vegetables, we have had a 25% growth in production "...the agricultural sector is advancing with determination towards sovereignty in its food supply", he emphasized.

The vice-minister also mentioned that the Plan Pavo (“Turkey Plan”), with 30 farms that will produce 40,000 kilos of meat for human consumption, started out in Mérida. As for cattle raising, Garzón pointed out that 106,000 head of girolando cattle were being imported to strengthen meat and milk production in the country and thus benefit small and medium producers.

For the vice-minister, the recovery achieved in our economy during the first quarter of the year will keep up, and predicted that it would increase by yearend. "The national government will give an impulse to the summer cultivation cycle, with 400 billion bolívares in financing that will benefit 60, 000 Venezuelans", he concluded.

Published in Quantum, No 29.