One of the myths currently being spun with care and malice abroad by opposition think tanks, such as VenEconomy or Veneconomia is that state companies and expropriated farms are "unproductive, highly political, inefficient and badly administered."
Robert "Toby" Bottome's Veneconomy churns out three articles a week attacking the government's economic record and (as far as I can tell), the government has not launched any counter-offensive in English to combat such lies, as I discovered when I visited the Ana Soto Zamorian farm in Bobare (Lara State).
Thanks to National Lands Institute (INTI) agrarian technicians we were able to visit the farm and talk to workers. The first thing that struck me was the size of the valley. Unlike other agrarian areas, lands around Bobare have been the source of permanent conflict between descendants of the Gayon indians and outsiders producing legal papers claiming ownership.
The land in question was claimed and plot by plot taken over fraudulently by Guatimosin Silva ... in 2007, INTI recovered Silva's lands -- a typical latifundio -- which were idle or rented out to third parties to farm. INTI paid Silva for all installed assets such as water wells and appliances.
INTI has helped the Ana Soto farm comprising of around 45 families with a grant of 500,000 bolivares to expand a network of drip irrigation because of serious water problems and I was able to see how one work group had installed the system to plant black beans for the first time. Normally, black beans are imported from Chile and Brazil.
Another work group is in charge of a pilot forage scheme to feed goats. Each family in surrounding villages has their own goats which they let loose during the day and gather-in each evening. The scheme, which includes soy and a species of beans, will provide further fodder to ensure better produce such as milk and cheese. In next year's economic plan, a genetic center will be set up to improve the stock and include goat herders who do not belong to the farm.
Interestingly enough, a neighboring Spanish farmer, who is fully productive, provided machinery to prepare plots with irrigation flood edges for the fodder scheme at his own cost, saving the farm several million bolivares.
Veteran farm organizer. Carlos Gutierrez told us that in the one and a half years of the farm's existence 180 hectares have been harvested in 3 production cycles and next year, it will be expanded to 318. Products include tomatoes, melons, peppers, coriander and papayas.
The INTI comrades showed us some of the work that had to be done to clear the land of cactuses and bushes so as to be able to prepare soil for planting. I was able to discern that their personal and revolutionary commitment to the project has gone far beyond the call of duty because many times they have cut corners in bureaucracy to ensure the farm's success.
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