Merida: a productive power and communal bastion

Merida, March 27, 2023 (Mincomunas Press) – The climatic diversity of Merida state positions it as one of the main productive entities in the country.

From large mountains covered by frailejones, rivers that humidify its vast lands at the top of its moors, to hot lands with the smell of cocoa and coffee are part of this beautiful geography, we can appreciate the fruit of the joint work of producers and community members.

In Merida, the People’s Power organized sows, harvests, and collects essential items for the consumption of Venezuelans, like potatoes, garlic, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, chives, and cilantro in the highlands. Also, cocoa, coffee, bananas, and banana are in the border region with Zulia.

Through the People’s Power Ministry for Communes and Social Movements, the Venezuelan Government promoted the Communal Economic Circuits in the Merida region, investment, and production projects in the communities that want to strengthen their food sovereignty.

Potatoes harvested in Communes

Last year, we established the Communal Economic Potato Circuit in the Rangel municipality, San Rafael de Mucuchies parish. It is no coincidence this mountainous area is home to the primary producers of this crop.

The circuit has 11 Communal Councils headed by the Paso de Bolivar 1813 Commune. They have an area of 1,400 hectares, for an average of two hectares per producer, explained Gerardo Rivas, community leader and producer from Merida.

In joint work, the organized people carry out the Social Property Company (EPS) of Storage and Handling of Potatoes and Seeds “Chávez Vive”; they have three warehouses where they store them to later distribute and sell them at affordable prices for the population.

In this context, the community members highlight the vital support they have received from the Network of Integral Producers of the Paramo (Proinpa).

Pedro Sanchez, from Comuna Paso de Bolívar 1813, took a tour of one of these sheds in the La Asomada de Apartaderos sector this weekend to see the quality of the first production.

“On the other hand, we have a variety of potatoes. We have the Única, the Peruvian, the Iniafri, and Amarilis. They are still hydrated,” he said while loading the big bags.

Douglas Santiago, a representative of this EPS, informed they obtained 519 sacks, equivalent to 20 thousand tons corresponding to a January harvest, the first since the establishment of the circuit.

Transparency and controllership

Recently, the Communal Councils delivered the first balance of expenses and surpluses regarding the financing received from the Venezuelan Government within the framework of a meeting scheduled by officials of the Ministry of Popular Power for the Communes and Social Movements to measure the progress and execution of the financial resources.

“This third visit we are making is to measure the progress of the Communal Economic Circuit, let’s say three bases: the first, communal aggregation; the second, financial execution and a third element which is the redistribution of resources,” explained Miguel Molina, coordinator of accompaniment for the new social relations of production.

Resources would be allocated to three funds, one for productive management, another for attention to producers, and the last for community social reinvestment, he said.

Gerardo Rivas’, estimates that for the July-December harvest, with the application of a new seed, they will be able to harvest 25 tons per hectare, for a total of 35 thousand tons in the second half of 2023.

Jaji and its poultry project

Further to the northeast of the state, in the Campo Elias municipality, is Jaji, a historical, colonial, and tourist parish in Merida state, characterized by its green landscapes amid mountains and thick fog.

There, you can breathe the work in the field, and its primary source of income is the land, the production of milk, cheese, and animal husbandry.

Leonardo Davila (active teacher of the Mistaja Agricultural Technical School and active member of the Miraflores Bajos Communal Council) highlighted the projects supported by the Venezuelan Government in this Communal Economic Zone (ZEC).

This sector established its Communal Economic Zone and has focused its objectives on three fundamental projects:

1. an integral communal farm to produce laying hens for consumption eggs.

2. The development of a community market.

3. The acquisition of a backhoe loader to using and repair the agricultural roads damaged by the rains.

“We met with officials from the Ministry of Communes and the Autonomous Service of the People’s Power National Fund (Safonapp), as well as with active members belonging to the Special Economic Zone of Jaji, where we made a report and account of the three financed projects,” explained Davila.

The poultry project is one of the main bets of the community members in Jaji. Although, it has its challenges in the commercial field with other producers. The educational component is also essential, and the institutions’ students get involved.

“The project started with 300 hens. During the five months of production that we have been with them, we have only lost three birds,” reported Professor Beatriz Suarez.

She explained that, on average, they are collecting five cartons a day. “Our objective is to increase production and, on the social side, to benefit the community,” she concluded.

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