When back-assward bolivarian policy making decimates the Venezuelan rice sector, guess who picks up the slack? The WSJ looks for the cheese on the “Food Sovereignty” tostada. There’s even a nice video!
[Take] rice farmer Eloy Alvarez. Born in Spain, Mr. Alvarez came to Venezuela in the 1940s and saw the promise in Venezuela’s hot and wet central plains, land that lends itself to rice growing. He bought some land for a song, and he and his wife spent 60 years farming it.
They eventually acquired 500 acres and raised two daughters and sent them to private school. In the early 2000s, the farm was producing its maximum of seven metric tons of rice a year.
But in recent years, Mr. Alvarez’s fortunes changed. The government set prices for rice and other products. With prices fixed but inflation rising, it became harder to afford equipment. He stopped buying new tractors and instead tried to fix his old ones. Import controls, however, made even parts hard to come by.
The 2010 nationalization of Venezuela’s main farm-supply company compounded the problems. Farmers say it is now often late in delivering basics, like fertilizer. That same year, weeds choked Mr. Alvarez’s rice crop—the result, he says, of herbicide delays. He now produces about 30% less than in the past.
Recently on Mr. Alvarez’s farm, a decades-old Ford tractor stood rusting in a shed. On a flat expanse of field, under a flock of circling white birds, another timeworn machine moved slowly, struggling to reap a rice field overrun with weeds.
“You can’t get the herbicide,” said Alexi Chambuco, 63 years old, one of Mr. Alvarez’s farmhands, wiping his face with a handkerchief. “And now it’s difficult to harvest.”
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