"This food crisis is the biggest demonstration of the historic failure of
the capitalist model," he said at the Alternative for the People of Our America (ALBA) summit in Caracas.
 
Also at the summit, leaders pledged their support to Bolivia ahead of a referendum vote in May in which the nation's more prosperous eastern provinces are seeking greater autonomy from the capital, La Paz, and its socialist policies.
 
'Silent tsunami'
 
Chavez said a regional food distribution system was needed to cut out the so-called "middle-men" who were increasing prices.

Your Views

How is the rising cost of staple foods affecting you?

Send us your views

"We have to create a regional trade network to stop us falling into the hands of speculators," he said.
 
Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia all import much of their foodstuff, with Bolivia forced to grant small farmers who grow corn, rice, wheat and soya beans interest-free loans as incentives for production.
 
The group's food security plan includes projects to help boost
output of grains, especially corn and rice and vegetables, as well as milk
and water, and improve irrigation, the Venezuelan leader said.
 
Global food prices, affected by rising fuel prices, environmental changes and increased demand from India and China, have sparked often violent protests this year in more than 35 countries in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.
 
The leaders' announcement comes after the head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned that a "silent tsunami" of hunger is sweeping across the globe, with an additional 100 million people facing poverty.
 
"This is the new face of hunger - the millions of people who were not in the urgent hunger category six months ago, but now are," Josette Sheeran said in a speech during a UK summit on the global food crisis.

Source: Agencies