Sunflowers (girasol in Spanish) grow wild in Venezuela. They are a common sight in fields and on the sides of highways. Despite their beautiful abundance, Venezuela doesn’t produce much sunflower oil. The cultivation of sunflowers has languished for decades while the nation still largely relies on an imported supply of edible oil.
All of that is changing now, as Venezuela’s mission to achieve food sovereignty includes the cultivation and production of sunflowers. Sunflower production was up by 175 percent in the 2006-07 period, increasing from 5,600 tons to 15,500 tons.
President Chavez had this to say about the girasol:
Venezuela has a great potential to grow sunflower. I grew up among sunflowers, but the governments of AD and Copei (the two traditional parties in Venezuela until the late 90’s) put an end to sunflower production (…) They chose to import edible oil… now we have reduced imports. There will come a day when Venezuela will export this product rather than importing it.”
To achieve that goal, the Venezuelan government will build an industrial compound in Turén, Portuguesa state, which includes a sunflower oil processing plant. Portuguesa has particularly impressive sunflower crops.