The Americas

Venezuelan's military begins campaign to combat shortages

  • In this March 8, 2016 photo, Bolivarian Army soldiers tend to a piglet on a farm at a military base near Maracay, Venezuela. President Nicolas Maduro on Monday night, July 11, 2016, said he was creating a new government initiative to boost production and guarantee the smooth distribution of food supplies in the face of what he called economic sabotage by his opponents. He said the Great Mission of Sovereign Supply will be headed by Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, who will coordinate the work of every ministry. Among its goals will be to wean oil-dependent Venezuela off foreign food imports and jumpstart agricultural production that has suffered for years under price controls. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

    In this March 8, 2016 photo, Bolivarian Army soldiers tend to a piglet on a farm at a military base near Maracay, Venezuela. President Nicolas Maduro on Monday night, July 11, 2016, said he was creating a new government initiative to boost production and guarantee the smooth distribution of food supplies in the face of what he called economic sabotage by his opponents. He said the Great Mission of Sovereign Supply will be headed by Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, who will coordinate the work of every ministry. Among its goals will be to wean oil-dependent Venezuela off foreign food imports and jumpstart agricultural production that has suffered for years under price controls. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this March 8, 2016 photo, Bolivarian Army soldiers prepare water dispensers at a chicken farm on military base near Maracay, Venezuela. President Nicolas Maduro on Monday night, July 11, 2016, said he was creating a new government initiative to boost production and guarantee the smooth distribution of food supplies in the face of what he called economic sabotage by his opponents. He said the Great Mission of Sovereign Supply will be headed by Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, who will coordinate the work of every ministry. Among its goals will be to wean oil-dependent Venezuela off foreign food imports and jumpstart agricultural production that has suffered for years under price controls. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

    In this March 8, 2016 photo, Bolivarian Army soldiers prepare water dispensers at a chicken farm on military base near Maracay, Venezuela. President Nicolas Maduro on Monday night, July 11, 2016, said he was creating a new government initiative to boost production and guarantee the smooth distribution of food supplies in the face of what he called economic sabotage by his opponents. He said the Great Mission of Sovereign Supply will be headed by Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, who will coordinate the work of every ministry. Among its goals will be to wean oil-dependent Venezuela off foreign food imports and jumpstart agricultural production that has suffered for years under price controls. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this March 8, 2016 photo, Bolivarian Army soldiers tend to tomato plants at a military base near Maracay, Venezuela. Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Monday night said he was creating a new government initiative to boost production and guarantee the smooth distribution of food supplies in the face of what he called economic sabotage by his opponents. He said the Great Mission of Sovereign Supply will be headed by Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, who will coordinate the work of every ministry. Among its goals will be to wean oil-dependent Venezuela off foreign food imports and jumpstart agricultural production that has suffered for years under price controls. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

    In this March 8, 2016 photo, Bolivarian Army soldiers tend to tomato plants at a military base near Maracay, Venezuela. Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Monday night said he was creating a new government initiative to boost production and guarantee the smooth distribution of food supplies in the face of what he called economic sabotage by his opponents. He said the Great Mission of Sovereign Supply will be headed by Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, who will coordinate the work of every ministry. Among its goals will be to wean oil-dependent Venezuela off foreign food imports and jumpstart agricultural production that has suffered for years under price controls. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)  (The Associated Press)

Venezuelans are getting a glimpse of the military's expanded role combatting severe food shortages that are threatening to provoke more unrest in the crisis-plagued nation.

Images broadcast Wednesday on state TV show uniformed officers inspecting chicken and soybean processing plants near the capital.

In an effort to combat worsening shortages President Nicolas Maduro this week handed control of the country's food production and distribution networks to Defense Minister Gen. Vladimir Padrino. A high-ranking officer was also placed atop the state agency overseeing ports, where the bulk of food the oil-producing nation consumes arrives.

The goal of what is called the Great Mission of Sovereign Supplying is to boost production and guarantee the smooth distribution of food while the socialist-run country is overwhelmed by a deepening economic crisis and political turmoil.