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National agricultural production had a share of 87% last year in the apparent consumption of 61 high-demand products such as rice, cassava, onion, tomato, avocado, and beef, pork, and chicken.

According to data published by the Ministry of Agriculture, of the items with which local producers participated with 100% and even more in consumption are sorghum, pigeon peas, sweet potatoes, yams, yautia, cassava, peppers, eggplant and cucumber, avocado, mango, banana and eggs.

Since 2015, the participation trend has remained between 87 and 89.7% in said list of 61 products, including 2020, where trade was stopped due to the confinement imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But since 2015 and until last year, a low proportion of national production in the apparent consumption of corn has also remained, between 3 and 4%; string beans, between 37 and 53%; and garlic, between 14 and 41%.

The former Minister of Agriculture and president of the Dominican Agribusiness Board (JAD), Osmar Benítez, has been reiterative in affirming that “the Dominican Republic is one of the few countries in the Americas that is capable of supplying 85 percent of the food demand of the population”.

But growers face rising prices for raw material. Last week, the United Nations warned that the world is facing the biggest “cost of living crisis” in a generation, with food prices near record highs, with fertilizers costing twice as much as until recently, and with the oil and gas shooting out.

Last year, out of a production of 202,164,237 quintals of different agricultural products, apparent consumption was estimated at 233,402,521 quintals, of which national production contributed a share of 87%.

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President Luis Abinader said during his participation in the IX Summit of the Americas last week that the government is making “an enormous fiscal sacrifice” to subsidize fuel, fertilizer and food for the population and thus seek ways to guarantee energy and food security.

The Government announced last month that it will grant credits for RD$500 million to the livestock sector and will contribute another RD$1,275 million to continue with the fertilizer subsidy, to guarantee food security.

Agricultural products

The Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development reports that the agricultural sector, for April 2022, registered an interannual increase of 0.1%, explained by the increase in the production of rice, papaya, coconut and pineapple.

“It is important to note that the average production level for the first four months of the year exceeds that recorded in the first quarter of the 2018-2020 period,” the ministry said in its Sectorial Outlook report for April and published last week.

In that month, the price index of the main agricultural products (bell peppers, garlic, red onions, pigeon peas, green bananas, pinto beans, potatoes, plantains, vegetables and cassava), according to their importance within the basket of the index of consumer prices, stood at 87.8 points, equivalent to a monthly expansion of 3.5%, reported Economy.

The ministry highlights that the index is below the levels recorded in 2020; “However, prices in 2022 show an upward trend with a cumulative growth rate of 10.9%.”

After the new Law 6-22 that allows importing 67 high-consumption food tariff subheadings for six months to contain inflation, the Government has guaranteed that only the products that are needed will be imported. The Ministry of Agriculture has reported that beans and chicken have already been imported duty-free, but Diario Libre has not yet been able to obtain precise information on how much or which ones.

Economics editor and professor of journalism. She has specialized in investigative, multimedia and data journalism.

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