Actualidad Dominican Republic

Agricultural sector and rural development

Draft bill

The General Agricultural Sector and Rural Development Bill received a reading in the  Senate in June 2017, in order to work towards compliance with Law 1-12 setting out the National Development Strategy to 2030, which requires new legislation to regulate the Dominican agricultural sector.

The Bill sets out the structure, organisation, scope, powers and operations of the bodies and institutions working in the agricultural sector, as well as defining the activities of the different stakeholders in the sector, and the roles and the reach of its institutions.

Agricultural sector

The agricultural sector is defined as covering cereal farming, livestock breeding, beekeeping, poultry-rearing, rabbit production, hunting, salt and freshwater fisheries, as well as agribusiness, agro-industrial and agricultural export services.

The Bill has identified the following priorities and measures necessary to tackle them:

  • Increasing productivity and food product quality,
  • Raising technical levels and generally modernise the food production system,
  • Promoting cooperation between institutions,
  • Developing infrastructures and modernise irrigation systems,
  • Extending short- and medium-term funding,
  • Existence of a State guarantee for the insurance on agricultural production investment, as a transversal instrument across the whole gamut of production,
  • Incorporating unexploited farming areas into production,
  • Incentives for all production stages,
  • Redefining supporting institutions.

National Agricultural Board and Ministry of Agriculture

This piece of legislation provides for the creation of several public institutions to articulate the strategic priorities listed above:

  • Ministry of Agriculture, to be the central structure in the agricultural sector, to which all other sector departments, divisions, sections and units will report. Articles 12 to 34 of the regulation define the ministerial departments that will be controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture, their heads and their functions; articles 35 to 189 describe the sector’s 26 farming institutions, which will also report to this Ministry.
  • National Farming Board, the main body for debate, approval, coordination and issuance of agricultural sector policy, comprising a number of civil servants and chaired by the President of the Republic.

The bodies above will have the powers to carry through plans, programmes and projects focusing on developing the agricultural sector to overcome rural poverty.

Role of the State in rural development

The Bill gives the state primary responsibility for guaranteeing food security, and as such it must make the necessary progress in technology and set aside enough resources to cover the procedures in production, processing, marketing and consumption required to stimulate all areas of the agricultural sector and encourage efficiency, progress and rural development.

To this end, it is creating the System to support agricultural, agroindustry and rural modernisation. This will focus on innovation in technology, qualification of human resources and creating the best conditions for producers. The system will be in charge of coordinating the Ministry of Agriculture’s activity and that of the other institutions in the agricultural sector, and will concentrate on raising agricultural and rural Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and on rural welfare.

The State must guarantee various services, including research, technical aid, education and training, organisation, technology upskilling, mechanisation, sowing materials, chemical and natural inputs, financing, marketing, risk compensation, guaranteed free professional training, land conservation, land ownership deeds, industrialisation and poverty reduction.

The new regulation also provides for the option of awarding state grants for special policies that support modern, high-quality and profitable farming at competitive prices for the consumer that help to open up international markets.

The regulation stresses the importance of professional resources and technology in supporting areas of the agricultural sector, and creates the Dominican College of Agricultural Professionals (CODOPA in the Spanish acronym); with legal personality under public, non-state law, whose operations will be defined in a specific law. The College will operate on national territory, representing professionals of all specialisations in the agricultural sector, and take part in their training and upskilling. It may also participate in research conducted in the state agricultural sector.

The Bill is awaiting a hearing in the current legislature, which opened in August.