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Venezuela to Push Cacao Production

Venezuela is pushing to turn cacao cultivation into a strategic industry for the country, through the implementation of a socialist form of cacao production.

Venezuela, a South ­American oil-­rich country which holds the world's largest supply of crude oil together with petroleum products that make up the vast majority of the country's exports, is currently undergoing its worst ever economic, social and political crisis, due to the collapse in oil prices towards the end of 2014 which decimated the country's oil­ dependent economy. This factor has seen the country's economy collapse, and has resulted in shortages of medicines, food, and other basic elements, worsening the quality of life of Venezuelans.

In the light of this daunting panorama, Venezuelans who remain in the country must reconsider their short and long term perspectives in order to survive and ensure decent living standards in short and long terms. The available empirical evidence suggests that, crops which dominated exports prior to oil dominance, such as coffee and cocoa have started to be repositioned in Venezuelan markets and are steadily growing with thousands of coffee and chocolate brands emerging.

Nevertheless, farmers’ work has remained undervalued and despite the fact that coffee and cocoa industries are flourishing in the midst of the crisis, the work of farmers continues underpaid, underestimated and often overlooked by the production chains, resulting in poor life quality and lack of sustainable farming practices due to shortages of resources, absence of incentives, inadequate training, lack of personal encouragement and acknowledgement of their work. Furthermore, it is important to highlight that within these chains of production, farmers can be considered as the most vulnerable communities since the majority of these workers include women and sometimes teenagers.

In this context, chocolate and coffee business people need to rethink the role farmers play in the production chains of both products so that there can be more acknowledgment of the hard work they carry out and raise awareness on the impact that inadequate farming practices add to global climate change effects.

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