Economic crisis in Venezuela takes toll on agriculture sector

Global Business

For Venezuelans living outside the capital of Caracas, the country’s economic crisis presents particular challenges. Farmers in rural Venezuela are finding it difficult to put food on their own tables, much less to provide food for the nation. 

CGTN’s Juan Carlos Llamas reports.

As the sun rises over his farm in a rural valley in northwestern Venezuela, a couple of hours drive from the capital, 86-year-old Rafael Farfán gets ready to go out to the fields he’s worked for five decades.

He said every day is a struggle.

 “I don’t have the same strength I used to have. Working in the fields is hard, and I don’t have the proper machinery so everything we do has to be done by hand.” 

As hyperinflation in Venezuela climbs to one million percent this year, buying seeds and fertilizer, maintaining equipment and paying wages are all prohibitively expensive. Farfán told his four farm workers he could no longer afford to pay them and now he and one of his sons are on their own in the fields.

His son Nelson said all the food they grow now goes to feed the family.

“We produce food just for us to eat. We don’t sell our crops anymore, eating is more important.” 

“The bananas, beans and cassavas they grow go to feed Rafael and his wife, son and three other adult children who live on the farm. He said they depend on it to supplement the government program that delivers a box of food once a month.

 “It’s hard, the government’s food box is enough to feed my family for three days. The rest of the month we eat what we can get from our crops.”  

As they wait for the harvest, Farfán said his family tries to set aside enough food for a small meal two times a day. Sometimes, all they have to stave off hunger is a cup of coffee.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has unrolled a new plan to tackle the agricultural crisis. He said the government will invest 1.2 billion dollars toward agricultural projects.

 “ It is important to create a special and specific fund for the entire agricultural sector, a fund exclusively dedicated to the purchase of the necessary seeds, which will allow us to grow what we need from 2018 to 2019.”

That plan will come too late for many of the farmers in this small community. Farfán said nearly a quarter of the families in the valley have given up farming and moved away… either to the big city or out of the country. But he said as long as he’s able, he’ll continue to go out to the fields to grow food to put on his family’s table.