Plantains still costly
The bananas which were imported to curb the high prices that the product was reaching in the Dominican Republic lasted apparently for as long as “a cockroach in a henhouse.” Only one of the five largest supermarket chains in the capital has them available.
In the other four major chains, the bananas on offer are local, and at such a high price as those registered when permits were granted to import them from other nations and offer them to Dominican consumers at a cost of between six and seven pesos. At least, that was the price they were meant to reach when the measure was announced, but then it was reported that prices would increase even more. The only supermarket that has foreign bananas available has been selling each unit for 17 pesos when green and for 19 when ripe (in this case, it is not specified whether it comes from overseas or from Dominican soil). Meanwhile, some of the other supermarkets sell them for 17, others for 18.95 and some for as much as 19.95 pesos. In Ciudad Ganadera, located on Highway 30 de Mayo, in the capital, where prices are traditionally lower because in some cases producers conduct the marketing themselves, local bananas are available for between 10 pesos (smaller) and 15 (larger).
When, in early October, it was announced by the Ministry of Agriculture that the importation of bananas would be authorised, it was made clear that it would be a temporary measure adopted to solve a problem caused by widespread drought, which has deeply hit Dominican banana plantations and consequently reduced the supply and pushed prices up. It was also made clear that the Government would never do anything that could negatively affect the domestic production, and that at the time there was speculation with prices by some who were taking advantage of the situation.
Between September and October 2015, the price of a banana unit broke a record, reaching between 15 and 20 pesos and in extreme cases as much as 30 pesos. Bananas were in short supply and also very expensive. It was then, in early October, when the Ministry of Agriculture reported that imports would be carried out by fruit and vegetable importers, supermarkets, traders and the Ministry itself in an effort to bring prices down.
In the weekend of 23 to 25 October, it was reported that the first ten containers loaded with bananas had arrived and that “there would be controls” to ensure they were not sold to the public for prices above those agreed with importers (15 pesos per unit), but the only imported bananas that were available at the time this article was written (about two weeks ago) cost 17 pesos per unit.
When the Ministry of Agriculture announced the measure, producers like César Espaillat, a member of the National Confederation of Agricultural Producers (Confenagro), warned that he had some reservations about it, but acknowledged in advance that the government’s intention to protect consumers was plausible. The current situation, at least when it comes to prices, has proved him right. Espaillat said that in other countries bananas are more expensive than in the Dominican Republic and therefore they would not arrive to this territory at “a fair price.”
He said then that “the price of an imported banana brought to a Dominican port could amount to eleven or twelve pesos, because of what transport from the country of origin to the Dominican Republic entails, and this would cause these to be sold at a price of nearly 20 pesos. “For the period between 1 October and 23 December, the Ministry of Agriculture granted 53 authorizations for banana imports (necessary as a result of the impact of drought and shortages described above); the beneficiary companies were Grupo Ramos, Bravo, Centro Cuesta Nacional, Casa Calín, Proagro Dominicana, Importadora García Durán y Comercializadora Reyes del Caribe. At the time this article was published, only Centro Cuesta Nacional had imported bananas.
Jan 6, 2016
Category: DR News |