An inspection on government-operated grain silos in Merida state today revealed 175,000 tonnes of spoiled potato seeds. The inspection was conducted by representatives from the Federacion Nacional de Productores de Papas y Hortalizas de Venezuela [National Federation of Potato Producers and Growers of Venezuela], who pointed out that the seeds could have been used to alleviate the scarcity crisis.
According to El Nacional, the cost of a kilogram of potatoes rose 1507% in the first three months of the year alone, from Bs. 28/kg to anywhere between Bs. 250-450/kg today.
The seeds were housed in silos operated by the Servicio Nacional de Semillas [National Seed Service], a state-run organized tasked with guarding seeds.
Potatoes Not Alone in Dramatic Price Increase
While inflation continues to rise in the country unabated, prices for virtually every item sold in the country continue to do the same.
BBC Mundo reported today that one of its journalists spoke with a taxi driver who said that they paid more for an air conditioning unit last week than they paid for their car two years ago. In the same article, BBC Mundo points out that the price of a whole baked chicken in Caracas has increased from Bs. 199 in 2013 to Bs. 1090 on June 15 of this year, with the price jumping 36% in the last month alone. The price of the chicken is checked routinely by Twitter user @LuisCarlos.
In an article published by Reuters today, Vladimir Flores – a young hardware store employee in Caracas – says that estimates his store provides to clients are only good for two days since prices increase so quickly.
The dramatic rise in prices – specially for food – appears to be affecting the less fortunate the most. The same article quotes Mercedes de Guzman, a 70 year-old resident of Caracas, as saying:
We can’t find anything — no meat, no chicken. The ones who eat are the ones who can afford to do so. The poor: can’t!
45% of Medical Machinery Out of Order
El Nacional cited a medical industry source yesterday as saying that 45% of the medical machinery in the country’s hospitals is out of order due to lack of repair parts. The source claims that the industry is unable to import repair parts due to the fact that the government agency tasked with allocating dollars, CENCOEX, has not been giving the medical industry enough money to buy all of the parts they need.
The source said:
When they granted us the acquisition authorizations, 57% of the equipments in the country were paralyzed. With those resources, about four weeks ago, we were able to import a few parts. They’ve arrived in the country, which has allowed us to repair some machines and decrease the number of machines that are out of order due to a lack of repair parts down to 45%. That’s still too much.
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