Yeah, that ought to do the trick, won’t it? How did that sort of thing work in Zimbabwe?
HATO SAN JOSE, Venezuela, Dec 2 – Venezuela this year has taken over more than a million acres (485,000 hectares) of land deemed idle or of doubtful ownership as part of leftist President Hugo Chavez’s bid to increase harvests during the worst drought in decades.
Agriculture Minister Elias Jaua said on Wednesday the drought meant yields for corn, a staple in the oil-exporting South American country, would fall about 40 percent from 2008, but the bigger area being cultivated would partly compensate for the shortfall.
Chavez’s “21st Century” socialist project envisages a greater public sector role in farming and food production. Critics liken the government’s food strategy to collective farming policies in the Soviet Union. They say price controls and land reform discourage investment and are to blame for a rise in imports.
Venezuela, one of the only net food importers in South America, is struggling to raise output to tackle high inflation and sporadic shortages of items like coffee and milk.
The drought has led to water and electricity rationing across the country and is a political headache for Chavez.
Under the policy, the government pays compensation to take land it considers idle or improperly used but occasionally seizes land if ownership is doubtful. Many of the farms taken over are later handed over to new owners such as cooperatives.
According to Venezuelan law, top quality land must be used for producing vegetables and beans, not for sugar cane, which is considered damaging to the soil.
That’ll probably make it as successful as that car production scheme.
But back to the drought, it looks like making the clouds abort from the Presidential Palace hasn’t been working all that well.