Venezuela: Fair food prices benefit poor

Alfredo Missair.

Venezuela’s representative in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Alfredo Missair, spoke on October 18 about Venezuela’s achievements in the field. He said that 14 million citizens (about half of the population) now have access to food at fair prices.

On the TV show Desperto Venezuela, broadcast by VTV, Missair stressed the country is on track to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals of halving the proportion of the population that is undernourished.

In the 1990s, this proprtion was 7.7% in Venezuela. It is now 3.7%, very low compared with the 6% average for Latin America, Missair said.

He said five million Venezuelans received some form of direct food aid through programs such as the School Food Program.

Another important indicator is chronic malnutrition, which is just 3.25%.

Missair said nutrition in children was very valuable because it helps them to develop their full potential.

He said such a low percentage of chronic child malnutrition showed that Venezulea had solved this public health problem, since it had been reduced to exceptional cases that could be treated individually.

Regarding the global situation, Missair said it has improved if we take into account that 925 million in 2010 were going hungry in 2010, compared with 1.025 billion people in 2009.

However, this figure represented nearly one-seventh of the world population, “which is an outrage”, he said. Missair said the situation was partly due to the economic crisis and rising food prices on the planet.

“In Venezuela, the situation is different”, he said. “It is interesting to celebrate the country's achievements in this field.”

Missair said that unsustainable agricultural policies promoted for decades around the world had badly affected the productivity and the environment. He also mentioned the subsidies granted by governments of the global North to their farmers.

“They are sometimes necessary because small farmers are disappearing, but big farmers and industrialised firms also benefit”, he said.

“These subsidies are unfair competition for farmers in the South, and they turn food into goods and merchandise with a value that artificially increases or decreases in the market.

“Most of the time, citizens are the ones who suffer from financial speculation in stock markets, which prevent us from having access to food.”

Missair said the pursuit of food sovereignty was important to end dependence on foreign food products, replacing them with products produced inside the country. “That’s fundamental”, he said, “and Venezuela is doing it”.

[From Venezuelan News Agency.]

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