OPINIÓN | La arepa blanca, en el mercado negro, por Werner Gutiérrez Ferrer

El primer registro de la existencia del maíz en Venezuela data de unos 2.800 años atrás. Este cereal ha sido uno de los alimentos base en la dieta del venezolano, incluso desde mucho antes del nacimiento de la república.

Werner Gutiérrez Ferrer

La arepa, “esa masa redonda hecha con maíz”, según datos arqueológicos es un alimento que existió en nuestro territorio “antes de la llegada de los conquistadores españoles a América”. Desde mediados del siglo XX,con el invento nacional de la harina de maíz precocida,la tradicional arepa considerada “la expresión culinaria más autóctona de los venezolanos” se populariza aún más en todo nuestro territorio, por la facilidad que se le ofreció a los hogares para su preparación.

Este acontecimiento sirvió para impulsar el crecimiento sostenido del cultivo del maíz blanco en nuestro país. Los adelantos tecnológicos alcanzados en Venezuela en la producción y procesamiento de este grano en décadas pasadas,son motivos de orgullo para nuestros profesionales, productores y sector agroindustrial.

El maíz es el único cereal en Venezuela que duplicó sus rendimientos desde los años 80, pasando de 1.740 kilogramos por hectárea a 3.500 kg en la década de los 90. En 1998 concluyó esa época en la que nos veíamos en la obligación de importar maíz blanco. Desde ese momento alcanzamos el autoabastecimiento.Durante el período de 1995 a 2005 la producción de maíz experimentó un incremento del 89 %, sin embargo, por las políticas erróneas impuestas por el gobierno de Hugo Chávez Frías, desde el año 2008 comienza a decaer la superficie sembrada, convirtiéndonos nuevamente en un país importador de este cereal. Hoy, el 85 % del consumo nacional, debe ser comprado en el mercado internacional.

Venimos de caer de 783.314 hectáreas en el 2008 a aproximadamente unas 300.000 hectáreas en el 2017, lo cual representa una disminución cercana al 65 % en superficie de siembra.Pasamos de cosechar 2.9 millones de toneladas en 2008, a tan solo 1.1 millones de toneladas el pasado año,por lo cual para satisfacer la demanda interna, entre maíz amarillo y blanco, el país debería importar en el 2018 sobre las 3.0 millones de toneladas del grano.

En mi opinión, debido a las absurdas e irresponsables medidas del gobierno de Nicolás Maduro, ya hemos perdido el año agrícola 2018. Los anuncios  en esta semana de Aquiles Hopkins, presidente de Fedeagro, ratifican que los pronósticos no son optimistas. El sector agrícola privado advierte que no le han dado la oportunidad de acceder a los agroinsumos para abordar el ciclo de siembra.

El gobierno, a través de la estatal Agropatria, que mantiene un férreo monopolio de los agroinsumos, en materia de semillas sólo ha contratado el 50% de lo requerido para sembrar las 750.000 hectáreas que se necesitarían para paliar el déficit actual, es decir, de haber sido entregadas oportunamente se habrían logrado establecer en el mejor de los casos 350.000 hectáreas. En materia de fertilizantes solamente para este cultivo existe disponible un tercio de lo requerido, similar situación existe en materia de agroquímicos. Adicionalmente, los repuestos y lubricantes para maquinaria agrícola se consiguen únicamente en el mercado informal.

Según estimaciones de los gremios en el presente año se producirán alrededor de 572.500 toneladas de maíz, lo cual representaría una merma de 45% en comparación al 2017, cubriendo la demanda interna detan sólo 1,7 meses, con la lamentable consecuencia, que veremos incrementar aún más el bachaqueo ya sufrido hasta el presente.Para disfrutar de nuestra tradicional arepa blanca, tendremos que obligatoriamente depender del mercado negro de alimentos, el cual tanta riqueza le ha generado a las mafias protegidas por el gobierno nacional.

De continuar bajo el modelo del Socialismo del Siglo XXI estamos a las puertas de ver desaparecer una tradición de 2.800 años como país productor de maíz. Los venezolanos no podemos  permanecer indiferentes mientras nuestros agricultores, con admirable firmeza, nos dan un ejemplo de dignidad y compromiso patrio, al permanecer de pie frente a sus unidades de producción pese a las adversidades impuestas. Los rostros famélicos de nuestros niños desnutridos, nos reclaman ser manos y no dedos.

Ing.Agr. M. Sc. Exdecano de la Facultad de Agronomía de LUZ

@WernerGutierrez

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