CARACAS, VENEZUELA — A group of South American and Caribbean countries have adopted a common plan of action to eradicate hunger and poverty, designed with support from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The agreement was announced during the Second Extraordinary Summit of the Petrocaribe oil bloc and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America - Peoples’ Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP), which concluded here on Dec. 17.

The plan aims to strengthen food and nutrition security in the Petrocaribe economic zone and in ALBA countries through national and regional hunger eradication projects. FAO will provide advice to governments in developing interventions.

During the summit, Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro said that "the Action Plan ALBA-Petrocaribe to free our territories from hunger seems fundamental for the future."

The plan reflects the priority that hunger reduction has been given by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and under the Hunger-Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative, a commitment by the 33 countries of the region to eradicate malnutrition by 2025.

The ALBA-Petrocaribe Action Plan represents the most ambitious attempt to eradicate hunger in the history of the region.

Speaking at the summit, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said, "Latin America and the Caribbean are showing that across the entire region there is political will for and commitment to achieving hunger eradication."

FAO and Venezuela's government also signed an agreement to implement a Venezuelan-led regional food- and nutrition security and poverty eradication program within the framework of the Hunger-Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative.

The Venezuelan program will work on three tracks: strengthening leaders, producers and social organizations in rural areas, facilitating the commercialization and trade of products from family farms; and supporting hunger eradication efforts in various economic integration zones in Latin America and the Caribbean, in particular in the Petrocaribe region.

The agreement between FAO and the Government of Venezuela was signed by the Vice President for Social Matters of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hector Rodriguez, and FAO Director-General. It involves an amount of $12 million. 

In addition, Venezuela signed an agreement with FAO to undertake a fisheries development program with environmental and economic sustainability criteria, through which FAO will provide technical assistance and support the transfer of technology- and good practices to fishing communities along the Venezuelan coast.

The $7.8 million project will be funded by the Venezuela's Ministry of Popular Power for Agriculture and Lands and will support more than 8,000 fishing families. Several years ago Venezuela banned industrial trawling in its waters, a measure aimed at maximizing fishing's benefits to local communities and minimize its environmental impacts.