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CARACAS, Venezuela — Some Venezuelan city dwellers are trying to grow their own produce to offset the country’s severe shortages following socialist President Nicolás Maduro’s calls for “food sovereignty.” But in a country where families are going hungry as a result of government mismanagement and sky-high inflation, many view the “Great Agro-Venezuela Mission” with skepticism.
When the project was presented in February, the newly created Ministry of Urban Agriculture announced that 12,000 square kilometers — about 4,600 square miles — would be planted in the first 100 days. The government promised to invest $300,000 in seeds, equipment and educational projects, and to help with logistics. The government urged citizens to plant in every available space — private terraces, communal areas, jails and schools, among other sites — but did not itself provide the land.
Eight months into the project, only 21 square kilometers (about 8 square miles) of land have been cultivated, according to the ministry. The decline in Venezuela's agricultural output has been accelerated by government expropriations of land under its socialist leaders. Much of the country's fertile agricultural land is underused, experts say.
Venezuela’s government, slammed by hyperinflation has finally thrown in the towel, and is planning to issue new bills in December with larger denominations—up to 200 times higher than the current biggest bill, according to people familiar with the plans. The move marks an implicit acknowledgment by the government that skyrocketing prices have slashed the value of the currency.
Indicatively, a fully stocked ATM is emptied in just three and a half hours on average now, according to the Venezuelan Banking Association.