Economy July 29, 2016 | 8:19 am

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Dominican Republic highland farmers caravan demands debt payment

Constanza, Dominican Republic.- Hundreds of farmers formeda caravan that meandered through the highland city’s streets Thursday to demandpayment of a RD$32 million debt from the Agriculture Ministry, among other grievances.

The demonstration, which toured thorough several nearbyvillages, was organized by the national farmers and producers association (Unaproda)and other associations.

The protesters demand payment of RD$12.8 million pledged tofinance garlic seeds, as well as RD$20 million pledged for a harvest of 2,000tons of onions.

They also requested support to market the current garlic crop,a halt of its import and assistance to plant over 600 hectares of garlic, whichstarts October 1.

The demonstrators also requested the Agriculture Ministry’sauthorization to auction the next harvest in the Dominican Agribusiness Bourse (BARD).

Unaproda president Humberto Collado said they are tired of Agricultureminister Angel Estevez’s promises. He said they’ve visited him many times buthave failed to agree on how to resolve the situation he affirms has bankrupt hundredsof farmers. "This peaceful protest only seeks a solution to the crisis fornonpayment facing most farmers in Constanza."

He said 63% of Constanza’s small and medium producers is onthe verge of going under and the rest face serious problems in the coming days,as the result of the Agribusiness Board’s (JAD) auctions to import farmproducts.

According to Collado, the JAD held an auction to import garlicin May just when local farmers were harvesting it, “that violates executive order569-12, which states that auctions cannot be done at harvest time.”

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