At long last the Turbio valley in Barquisimeto (Lara) is being converted into something productive, especially the part nearer the airport.
I was allowed to visit the San Jose farm in Titicare with the tireless Carolina Urteaga, president of the Pedro Camejo Socialist mechanized company that has tractors, harvesters, ploughs and all other kinds of machinery connected to agricultural work. We also met up with officials from the Venezuelan Agricultural Corporation (CVA).
The recovery of the land took place a month and a half ago and already the land has been cleared of weeds and rubbish for agro-forestry projects. In other words, agro-forestry is an "integrated approach of using the interactive benefits from combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock ... it combines agricultural and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy and sustainable land-use systems."
Carolina said agroforestry, which is relatively new for Venezuela, has been adopted because the greater part of Barquisimeto city's water supply comes from wells in this part of the River Turbio valley. Different kinds of tress are being planted alongside black beans and there are hectares where sorghum is being planted to rot and enrich the soil for growing vegetables.
The owner of the farm, who had threatened to repel National Lands Institute (INTI) officials with firearms, handed over the farm without too much fuss the next day. However, he had managed to put the fear of God into peasants working for him claiming that he would soon get the farm back and warned them not to work for CVA. 6 of the peasants are now working on the farm and the others are being won over.
I met Morenda Gracia in charge of Pedro Camejo Company's. environmental administration, who was busy caring for tree shrubs and bean plants. Morenda was directing a group of mostly adults, volunteers from the Sucre "university" mission, studying environmental management. Many I spoke to will graduate as technicians in January after 6 semesters of practical work and others will graduate after completing 10 semesters.