Food production has been reduced by the pandemic; the sowing of some crops decreased more than 50%
The smallest reductions were registered in rice, avocado, and beet.
The area planted with most agricultural items has been significantly reduced in the Dominican Republic in 2020 compared to 2019. This represents a threat to the food security of the Dominican population.
The products that register the most significant reduction are coconut, garlic, sorghum, and white beans, whose sowing in the January-September period of this year fell more than 40%, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture contained in an analysis prepared by the Fuerza del Pueblo (FP) party published this month.
In coconut, the area sown decreased 58.19%; that of garlic 52.47%; that of sorghum 51.21% and that of white beans 40.43%.
Grapefruit sowing was also reduced (36.90%); red beans (19.61%) and black (18.54%); guava (16.56); mango (15.40%).
The area is sown with molondrón, papaya, cauliflower, aubergine, onion, melon, and sapote, which also decreased by over 10%.
The planting of yams, bananas, potatoes, squash, carrots, pineapple, cabbage, corn, lettuce, salad tomatoes, sweet orange, cucumber, and other items also decreased, although to a lesser extent. The smallest reductions were registered in rice, avocado, and beet.
The threat to food security
It is against this background that in its study entitled “Policy actions and measures to guarantee food security in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Dominican Republic,” the FP states that as a result of the pandemic, the country’s food security presents various threats.
The analysis establishes that although at the beginning of the pandemic, the decrease in demand for food, due to the fall in tourism and the loss of purchasing power, caused a reduction in prices because an excess supply was generated. As a result, the prolongation of this situation has caused a significant disincentive for the agricultural producer.
Nowadays, one observes with concern the fact that in most of
the agricultural food items a reduction in planting has been experienced,
from which a reduction in national production is
already being verified that could continue in the coming months,” says the analysis.
Added to this is the growth in dependence on imports, which between January and September remained stable and even in some cases increased exaggeratedly, according to the study.
Such is the case of milk and dairy products, poultry eggs, natural honey, edible products of animal origin, whose imports increased 16.4%; animal or vegetable fats and oils; products of its unfolding; processed food fats (22.7%) and food vegetables, plants, roots and tubers (103.1%), details the analysis.
“In addition to the above, food imports could be affected
in the short and medium-term by an eventual shortage of foreign exchange to finance
their acquisition …,” adds the study.
It also indicates that an eventual shortage of foreign exchange can lead to the devaluation of the Dominican peso and a subsequent inflationary process that can negatively impact the price of food and further reduce the population’s purchasing power.
Added to all this is that the untimely dismantling of aid programs implemented by the government can lead to a drastic reduction in monetary income, loss of purchasing power, and social unrest.
To face the situation and guarantee food availability, the analysis contains a series of recommendations, among which are the creation of a Special Fund for the Agricultural Sector to implement various actions in favor of agriculture.
To ensure access to food, he suggests, among other measures, to keep the aid programs “Stay at Home,” “Pa’Ti,” and “FASE” in operation while the adverse effects of the pandemic last.
It also recommends ordering the National Council for Food and Nutrition Sovereignty and Security (CONASSAN) to prepare and immediately implement a “Food Contingency Plan” to face the risks that threaten the nation’s food security during the period of health emergency due to COVID-19, among others.