“A banana could have cost a hundred pesos here without government intervention”: Eddy Alcantara
The executive director of the Institute for the Protection of Consumer Rights (Proconsumidor), Eddy Alcántara, highlighted the measures of the government of President Luis Abinader in the face of internal and external factors that affect the prices of the leading products of basic food basket and the family.
Alcántara explained the reasons for the shortages of some products in the Dominican Republic, depending on the year’s season, as is the case with bananas. “Every year, there is a season in which bananas are produced in smaller quantities, which is when the temperature is very cold; from November to March, there are fewer units per plantation, and they are also much smaller,” he said.
“I was asked in the presence of the Minister of Agriculture, when do you think the banana issue is going to normalise? And I told them: it is normal for it to be in the month of March. A banana could have cost a hundred pesos here, (but) the government intervened, and the most it affected was 55 in the most difficult times,” said the head of Proconsumidor, during an interview in Hoy newspaper, where he added that even though there is a time when production decreases, the threat that the price of the item would shoot up to RD$100 a unit, never existed.
Eddy Alcántara spoke to Hoy newspaper about current issues related to the institution and other topics of national interest /Jose Francisco.
The official also said that, even though there is no price control in the country, there is a free market, meaning citizens can buy the product where it is cheapest. “And the constant complaint was: look, Proconsumidor should come because there is a grocery store that is selling at 35, another at 40 and another at 50. But you are giving the solution: buy at 35 because no one is forced to buy at 50,” he emphasized.
Alcántara stressed that of all the countries in the region, the Dominican Republic had been the only one with no product shortages in the current economic context that the world is experiencing. “Neither at the time of the pandemic nor at this moment. And we have guaranteed for 18 months the supply of all the products of the basic food basket and those that are also preferential, which are those that have certain characteristics (…). He assured that there are no shortages and there will be no shortages”.
According to data published by Proconsumidor, according to its inspectors’ weekly price monitoring, the banana per unit was sold in grocery stores between 24 and 28 pesos from the 1st to the 7th of this month.
It is recalled that in the last 20 years (2002-2022), the banana was the agricultural product that experienced the most significant increase in productivity, according to a publication by the Regional Centre for Sustainable Economic Strategies (Crees).
“The five agricultural products cultivated with the greatest increase in productivity are: banana, pineapple, milkweed, tayota and coconut. On the other hand, among those that have registered the lowest increase are: peppers, garlic, yautía, yams and rice,” a Crees note points out.