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Intermediaries raise vegetable prices 300%

SANTO DOMINGO. The vegetables that are harvested in Constanza, in La Vega province, can reach consumers at a price of up to 300% superior to that paid to the farmers who are located in the Central Mountains at more than 1000 m above sea level.

This jappens with potatoes, whose producers sell the product at RD$7.00 and RD$10.00/pound – earning approximately 11% or as much as 15% above their cost of production, but they are sold at retail for at least RD$30.00/pound in Santo Domingo.

When the farm products are not harvested in any other area of the country, the farmer has greater possibilities of obtaining good profits.

The cultivators of garlic, which is only grown in Constanza, can earn as much as 30% above production costs and those who grow onions – at this moment, with scarcity in the markets – more than 160%.

The Dominican Republic is not self-sufficient in either of these products and the Dominican Agro-business Board (JAD) auctions import permits.

For the consumer, garlic prices are at least 69% more expensive than the price paid to the producer and at the present time onions are 200% more.

Potatoes are 300% more expensive when they reach the consumer

The production cost of a pound of potatoes is between RD$6.00 and RD$9.00 and producers in Constanza obtain between RD$7.00 and RD$10.00 a pound.

A tarea of land produces between 3000 and 4000 pounds of potatoes, and producers invest between RD$22,000 and RD$27,000 for each tarea, indicates the president of the National Union of Farm Producers (UNAPRODA), Humberto Collado.

The farm leader says that in the New Market on Duarte, in Santo Domingo, where they themselves take potatoes, the merchants there charge them 6% of the value in order to sell their crops. In addition they have to add some RD$4.00 in transportation and packing costs for each kilo of potatoes.

In the wholesale markets, the pound is sold for between RD$9.00 and RD$11.00, according to the media coordinator of the National Federation of Merchants and Businessmen (Fenacerd), Ricardo Rosario.

For the clients of retail merchants, a pound of potatoes costs between RD$30 and RD$37.

The country consumes 1.3 million quintals of potatoes a year. (A quintal = 100 lbs) The supply is 1,020,000 quintals (85,000 quintals each month). Potatoes are a crop which takes three months to harvest, and they are planted throughout the year, resulting in four harvests every year.

The national production of garlic does not cover the demand

To get a tarea of land into garlic production requires an investment of RD$40,000. Calculating a yield of between 700 and 800 pounds, the production cost of a pound of garlic is approximately RD$50.00 and the average sale price on the farm is at RD$65.00, according to producer Raudy Cruz, who is also the president of the Vegetable Cluster of Constanza and an advisor to Unaprode.

If the garlic bulb measures more than 4 cm, it sells at RD$80.00 a pound; if it measures between 3 and 3.9 cm, the price is RD$65.00, and if the head is smaller and measures less than 3 cm, it costs RD$42.00 a pound.

At the wholesale markets a pound of garlic reaches nearly double the price, since it is sold for RD$120, says merchant Ricardo Rosario. In the supermarket, a pound of garlic costs between RD$110 (Premium Select grade) and up to RD$170, if it is in cloves, with prices varying according to quality and origin of the product.

“There is a huge difference” between what consumers pay and the price paid to the farmer, says Raudy Cruz. “Those are the issues that have created serious problems for the national farm production, because they have not worked on eliminating intermediaries (…), And to get more profit from this,” he says.

The monthly consumption of garlic is some 2.3 million pounds (23,000 quintals), notes Cruz. The country imports between 75% and 80% of the garlic that is consumed, says the president of Unaproda, Humberto Collado.

The sowing

Garlic is sown in October and November, after two months of preparation of the soil. At six months the crop is ready to be taken out, between April and May.

In 2014 barely 6156 tareas were planted, with a harvest of between 4.3 and 4.9 million pounds. This year there are 9200 tareas planted in garlic in Constanza, the only place where this condiment is harvested in the country. With new, high yielding varieties, the garlic producers are hoping to harvest up to 15 quintals per tarea, says Collado.

If there is less supply, farmers earn more

To produce a tarea of onions costs between RD$28,000 and RD$30,000, and allows the farmer to harvest on average, some 4000 pounds, according to the producer Raudy Cruz. This is to say each pound of onion costs the producer some RD$7.00 to RD$7.50.

Cruz said that in the fields, a 50 pound bag costs RD$1000, at RD$20.00 a pound, because with the drought there is less of a yield in the harvest in the south of the country – the producers in Constanza have still not begun their harvest – and therefore there is less supply.

In the market, a 50 pound bag of onions costs RD$1200 at the present time, which is to say RD$24 a pound. Since the country is not self-sufficient in onions, and they have to resort to imports, the Dominican Agro-business Board (JAD) auctions the permits.

Rosario says that every auction – which is also done with garlic and beans – raises the prices, because the license is an additional cost that consumers pay. And he recalls that when onions are imported, they charges much as RD$26.00 a pound for the license.

Consumers buy a pound of onions for between RD$60 and RD$65 at the retail stores.

According to what Raudy Cruz says, each month 75,000 quintals of onions are consumed. They are also harvested in the South.

In Constanta there are 5000 tareas planted in onions, and they expect to harvest some 200,000 quintals, indicates Cruz. The harvest is carried out twice a year: in November in the Valley of Constanza, and in April and May in the mountains around the valley.

Source: DiarioLibre

February 17, 2015

Category: DR News |

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Last updated October 24, 2016 at 6:05 PM
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