Local September 17, 2014 | 7:28 am

Sprawl gobbles up Dominican Republic’s farmlands, top official warns

Santo Domingo.- Failure to regulate the use of land with farming potential near cities will lead to continued sprawl across the Dominican Republic, Agriculture minister Angel Estevez warned Tuesday.

He called it a phenomenon that occurs in cities worldwide as a growing population demands more housing, noting that it’s natural situation that stems from a lack of planning, since land owners make more money with urbanizing that from agriculture.

The official said that the agencies linked to urbanism, such as public works and city councils must work reduce the conversion of farmlands for construction. "It should be a fight by the people with the city halls and Congress to find a way to lessen the impact on land use."

Estevez said as much as 10% of farm lands around cities will end up developed, citing Moca, La Vega, Santiago and San Francisco de Macorís as having lost the most land to urbanization.

He said the most palpable is the stretch spanning Cutupú, La Vega, and Moca, where a mere 20 years ago boasted banana and vegetable farms, but is now residential.

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