AGROFANB, National Bolivarian Armed Force and Agricultural Production.

AGROFANB is the Agricultural Company of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, it is a Venezuelan military company whose main objective is to produce food for the different components that make up the Bolivarian National Armed Force, an institution made up of millions of men and women who protect the security of the Venezuelan Nation In the 2nd Season of "Sembrando un País", we had the opportunity to meet this huge company that has 177,000 hectares devoted to agricultural production, and distributed in the different States of the Country.

 

On this occasion, we visited the Great Chief Yare Agricultural Production Unit, located in the Girardot Municipality of the Aragua State. Among the experiences that we met in this production unit are: tomato production, swine, laying hens, broiler chickens and white corn parents for seed production. 

 

We also had the opportunity to have a very pleasant conversation with Vice Admiral José Aguilera, President of AGROFANB, who expressed the need and the challenge that currently exists in the country to produce food in greater quantity, as well as the strong need that exists for agricultural producers in Venezuela's to count with quality seeds produced in the country. We also talked about how the company is organized, the coordination of it with other institutions, and also the importance of the Armed Forces also participating in the development of the country.

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Team of Sembrando un País during interview to Agricultural Producer Jesús Mendoza. AGROFANB, Great Chief Yare A.P.U. Aragua State.

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Tomato seedlings transplanted in the field, with furrows on the sides for flood irrigation. AGROFANB, Great Chief Yare A.P.U. Aragua State.

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Fran Afonso, Host of Sembrando un País 2nd Season, interviewing to Vice Admiral José Aguilera, President of AGROFANB. Great Chief Yare A.P.U. Aragua State.

Military and Civil personnel of AGROFANB performing cultural tasks in tomato plantation. Great Chief Yare A.P.U. Aragua State, Venezuela.

Team of "Sembrando un País" while recording on AGROFANB. Great Chief Yare A.P.U. Aragua State.

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Tractor coupled with harrow during soil preparation for tomato planting. AGROFANB, Great Chief Yare A.P.U. Aragua State.

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Team of Sembrando un País with Lieutenants Pablo Tovar and José Celis. AGROFANB, Great Chief Yare A.P.U. Aragua State.

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Lieutenants Pablo Tovar and José Celis applying iron to piglet 2 days old. AGROFANB, Great Chief Yare A.P.U. Aragua State.

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Male pig sniffing female sow, in porcine reproduction area. AGROFANB, Great Chief Yare A.P.U. Aragua State.

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Male pig mounting the female sow, in porcine reproduction area. AGROFANB, Great Chief Yare A.P.U. Aragua State.

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In the background we can see the system of irrigation by pivot and extensive planting of maize parents. AGROFANB, Aragua State.

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Fertilization of maize parental plantation with urea, using tractor coupled with fertilizer spreader. AGROFANB, Great Chief Yare A.P.U. Aragua State.

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Fran Afonso in plantation of white corn parents during the recording at AGROFANB. Great Chief Yare A.P.U. Aragua State.

Later we talked with Jesús Mendoza, Agricultural Producer in charge of tomato planting. At this point it is worth mentioning that despite most of the people who work at AGROFANB being military, the company also has civilian personnel. Jesús showed us the methods that are used in AGROFANB to plant the tomato in large areas in the open:

 

For the preparation of the land a tractor with a harrow is used to remove the soil, later furrows are made that will constitute the irrigation system, which is carried out by flood as in the Lara State, from which our friend Jesús is a native.

 

Once the soil is ready for planting, the tomato seedlings are moved to the field. Before making the first hilling (or arrime of earth) the lower branches of the tomato plant must be removed to free the plant from tissues to maintain, and in this way it can concentrate its nutrients and energy in its growth.

 

The section of the stem where we have removed the branches will be covered by dirt after hilling. Likewise throughout the cultivation cycle pruning must be done to the plant to remove dry, diseased branches or where there are no flowers, this work as well as the harvest is carried out jointly by the military and civilian personnel of AGROFANB.

We also do not want to miss an interesting interview we did with José Celis and Pablo Tovar, both Lieutenants of the FANB and Agronomists in Animal Production. Lieutenant Pablo Tovar showed us the managements that are made to the piglets in the maternity area of the pigs; On the second day after the birth of the piglet the tail is cut, which is done to prevent the pigs from biting or eating the tails among themselves. They are also injected with iron and given a vitamin complex to prevent anemia and ensure the proper development of swine. In this stage castration of male piglets is also done, it is worth noting that it is convenient that this type of handling is carried out between two people, because the piglets when being handled tend to try to get away and move a lot.

 

In the reproduction area we could observe the large porcines that are used as reproducers, the male is usually called "padrote" or "verraco". In this area Lieutenant José Celis mentions an interesting management that they carry out for the reproduction with the male pig; this management consists of releasing the pig (in a controlled manner) and walking it through the corridors of the shed in the reproduction area so that it passes through the various cells where the females are found. The male sniffs the females from the corridor, standing in front of the door of the cell where the female is, and if the female is in heat it will approach the door of the cell to smell the male. This management is done with the intention of encouraging both the male and female to mount, and to easily detectthe females in heat.

 

When it is detected that the female is in heat and eager to receive the male, three mounts are made, the first in the morning, the second in the afternoon and the third in the morning of the next day, this will guarantee to a large extent that the female is pregnant, however if this does not happen they repeat the three mounts mentioned above. It should be noted that the mounts in the same female can be made with different males, and even of different breeds; therefore it is not strange to observe that a same sow can give birth to piglets with different characteristics, this is due to the fact that this sow was mounted by two or three "padrotes" with different characteristics.

To end this tour of AGROFANB we interview Major Rodulfo Sangronis, President of the Great Chief Yare .A.P.U. and Luis Zurita, Agronomist of the company Semillas Nacionales, C.A. SEMINACA, with whom we talked about the white corn parents that are being planted in this production unit. Major Sangronis told us about the importance of this crop that is made with the intention of producing seeds, we also talked about the support, collaboration and technical support that  SEMINACA provide to AGROFANB, and about the pivot irrigation system that is Used to hydrate these corn plants.

 

Then the agronomist Luis Zurita gave us an explanation about the interesting and complex process to produce the seeds; The first thing we have to mention is that this parents will be the plants that produce the seeds that will be used to produce the corn hybrids, which will finally be the ones that give origin to the Imeca 20-20 corn seed. That is to say that these parents will be the ones who contribute the genetic material that will constitute Imeca 20-20 Maize , and also from these parents will be produced the seeds that will generate the plants that will be used in fields of seed production, and that will finally generate the seeds that They will be placed on the market at the disposal of the producers.

 

Another point highlighted by the agronomist Zurita is the great difference that exists between planting a field of corn to produce seeds and plant corn for human consumption; we found it extremely interesting to know that in the production of seeds at an industrial level it is necessary to use more water, fertilizers and agrochemicals than when the same crop is grown for human consumption. This interesting phenomenon is due to the fact that when seeds are produced, it must be guaranteed that the plants are in very good conditions, otherwise they may produce good fruits but the seeds extracted from them generate weak plants that are very susceptible to diseases, affecting in this way all the work and research invested to achieve the hybrid of the seed that will be commercialized.

Fran Afonso Conversing with agronomist Luis Zurita, Major Rodulfo Sangronis and agronomits José Pérez. AGROFANB, Great Chief Yare A.P.U. Aragua State.

The pivot irrigation system mentioned by Major Sangronis is fundamental in this work, since irrigation must be carried out in a constant manner to avoid the water stress generated by the lack of water in the plants, if it is sown during the period of rains can be avoided using the irrigation system while it rains, but the days when it does not rain and the soil loses humidity becomes a prevailing need to activate the irrigation system. When planting for consumption, plants can be allowed to suffer up to a certain point of water stress and use drip irrigation systems to ration the precious water resource, this will not prevent the plants from producing quality fruits for human consumption; However, remember that the destination of these fruits is only consumption and their seeds will not be used to establish new plantations.

 

With regard to fertilizers, intensive management must be carried out, especially with the supply of nitrogen to the soil, since this nutrient will be voraciously consumed by the corn crop, because this plant demands it in high quantities. To return the nitrogen to the soil, Urea is generally used, a very rich fertilizer in this nutrient. The control of weeds, as well as pests and fungi must also be constant, since at no time can our corn parents compete for nutrients, water and space with other plants; because we run the risk of generating weak seeds. The same happens with diseases, so the crops used for seed are fumigated much more frequently with agrochemicals to eliminate all kinds of insects that can affect the leaf, stem and fruit, as well as eliminate the minimum incidence of fungi that may be on the ground. Likewise, if weed control can not be carried out quickly by hand due to the cultivated area, we must use herbicides that eliminate all types of weeds present in the area and do not affect the corn plants in any way.

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