Venezuela

More than 1 million Venezuelans benefit from land reform program

Correo del Orinoco

The President of Venezuela’s National Land Institute (INTI), Luis Motta Dominguez, affirmed that more than 224,000 families have benefited from redistributed farmlands made available through the Chavez administration’s agrarian reform program.

The announcement was made during an interview with state television on Tuesday when Motta gave an update on the progress being made with respect to the country’s land redistribution program.

“It we take an average of 5 people per family, then we’re talking about 1.3 million people who have benefited from the redistribution”, the INTI President said while interviewed on the program Toda Venezuela (All of Venezuela).

Venezuela’s agrarian reform began in November 2001 when President Hugo Chavez signed by decree the Land Law, mandating the break up of fallow landed estates, known in Span- ish as latifundios.
The law gives the state the

legal authority to expropriate any lands underutilized or illegally acquired and redistribute them to farming collectives comprised of wage workers previously without access to their own parcels.

According to Motta, INTI has been able to regularize some 7.7 million hectares (19 million acres) of land over the past 11 years and redistribute some 1.1 million (2.7 million) of those to rural laborers involved in state projects.

“The expropriation of these lands happens when there is a latifundio. We need to act so that these lands that were once concentrated in the hands of a single person and weren’t being used are handed over to the small producer”, the Land Institute President declared. In addition to providing land and meaningful work to rural laborers, Venezuela’s land redistribution program is also designed to help decrease the country’s reliance on imported food items, a historical problem in the OPEC member state.

This is done, Motta informed, by turning the once underutilized lands into productive tracts in line with the country’s needs.

“All those lands that are not productive are being rescued. They’re being handed over to collectives or to agroecological projects in order to consolidate the food security and development. There is a constant monitoring and we’ve seen how production has increased throughout the national territory”, he said on Tuesday.

Recently, the government in-troduced a new program, Mission AgroVenezuela, with a similar goal – to stimulate agri- cultural production by providing assistance to any farmer willing to dedicate their land to domestic production.

The assistance comes in the form of low-interest credits through state financing as well as access to technical aid, supplies and farming machinery such as tractors and harvesters.

These initiatives along with continual evaluation and rescue of fallow lands have led, Motta argued, to greater work opportunities and higher living standards for Venezuela’s small farmers.

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