Organic products in Dominican Republic

Hello everyone,

As a consumer in Dominican Republic, you may seek to maintain a healthy lifestyle by choosing mostly organic products. If you do favour such products, we would like to know more about your consumption habits.

Is it easy to find organic products in Dominican Republic (cosmetics, food, etc.)? Where can we find them?

Are organic products more or less expensive than in your country of origin? What average monthly budget do you spend on them?

Can we rely on labels on organic products in Dominican Republic? Are the origins of the products verified by an organization?

Are organic products part of Dominican culture? Have you ever tried to make your own organic products (candles, toothpaste, gardening, food)?

In your opinion, is the consumption of organic products only a fad or does it have real benefits on one’s health?

Thanks for sharing your experience,

Bhavna

Interesting topic.   I do consulting with a local organic farm so have access to info!

Organic is somewhat available here but is not yet a "thing".  As we have such high rates of tourism that is all inclusive there is an increasing demand for organic for their use.  Tourists from more advanced countries are demanding it.

Organic is a growing industry here.

Certifications here are a mess.  There are multie ways to be certified.  Locally there are different bodies certifying,  internationally there are different organizations and indeed some purchasers have their own ! 

Do they mean anything or are they regularly checked?  Not like we would wish!

Organic is more expensive.  That limits who here can afford them!   And organic as a concept is not fully understood here.

Good recent articles about the limited but now growing verified organic production in DR below and google translated.

Tesco the large UK supermarket chain buys organic bananas, cacao and mangoes amongst other products from DR and has their own quality control people checking the implementation of the local organic food code Nordom 603 from INDOCAL.

https://www.argentarium.com/veedor/noticias/37000-produccion-organica-para-consumo-local-algunos-avances-enormes-trabas/

The Dominican Republic is internationally recognized for its production and export of organic cocoa (produces 60% of world demand), organic bananas and other fruits.

But paradoxically, the consumption of organic and agroecological food and products locally is very low.

“The export industry is quite organized. On the other hand, there is the local market that is in diapers, ”says Zaura Muñiz , current president of the Organic Committee of the Dominican Agribusiness Board (JAD) and owner of the organic products marketer Terra Verde, referring to the issue.

Five years ago, when Muñiz started the Terra Verde project, the demand for local products was considered virtually non-existent. “I imagined that many people had the desire to start eating healthy and simply did not have access to these products,” says the owner of Terra Verde.

In the country there are no powerful state or private campaigns aimed at promoting healthy eating as a culture.
Remember that by then (2013) just some organic products were imported.

Nowadays, although very timidly, local supermarket chains are introducing a variety of foods of this type, which offer the advantages of being healthier and having a lower environmental cost.

But there are several factors that slow the growth of the market.

On the one hand, organic is not generally economic. Frequently, the possibility of acquiring such products is reserved for people with high purchasing power. Therefore, the cost is seen as an obstacle for the booming local organic industry.

Thus, reduced demand slows down the possibilities of mitigating costs by high volume of production or, as economists would say, by economy of scale.

Rodolfo Gil, founding member of the Association of Organic Producers Los Botados (Aproglobo), recognizes that these foods are more in demand by the middle and upper middle class. He attributes it to the fact that, on the one hand, these income strata are usually more educated and, consequently, aware of the need to take care of their health and their environment; but also that the poorest groups do not have the purchasing power to acquire products whose price is higher than those of the more conventional ones.

In this regard, Muñiz says that the high cost is a factor against, but gives priority to the lack of awareness of the value of healthy food and its lower impact on the environment.

It is, in his opinion, to be clear about the priorities: “People who have their diet as a priority may choose, perhaps, to stop doing other things. I spend on food what I do not buy clothes and makeup, ”he says, convinced that, more than an expense, this is an investment in health.

"If we see it as an investment, not as a cost, in the long run when you maintain a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating, you have to worry less about going to the doctor," says Muñiz.

To this is added that in the country there are no powerful state or private campaigns aimed at promoting healthy eating as a culture.

Organic producers for local consumption face the challenge of still reduced demand, with the disadvantage that their products are generally not an option for the majority of the population, which has few resources.

The sector also demands legislation that, in addition to assuming this challenge, stimulates organic production and protects small and medium producers. “It is the main demand that the organic producers of the country have,” says Gil, who has decades related to the organic world.

“Small organic producers do not have access to certifications, which is a long and expensive process… lack of support, lack of financing, training and technical assistance,” notes, on the other hand, Muñiz.

It is important to remember that to be called in the formal markets as organic, the product must not only be free of agrochemicals and pesticides, without additives, dyes, preservatives or other artificial inputs. In addition, it must be certified by an accredited international entity, in order to offer the final consumer the guarantee of high quality and compliance with the established standards and standards.

They also bet on the application of government subsidies, as stipulated in other countries, with the objective of promoting and projecting local production.

At the beginning of March of this year, organic farmers proposed to initiate a process of transition from conventional agriculture to organic and agro-ecological agriculture.

The proposal emerged at the II Regional Meeting of the Caribbean of Agroecology Organizations entitled “State of art of Agroecology in the Dominican Republic focused on public policies”.

In 2016, organic agriculture projected an annual growth of 25-30%, according to data from the Office of Control of Organic Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture.
In it, they complained about the modernization of agriculture in the framework of the model of the green revolution in the country, since far from solving the problems of the rural area has generated a crisis.

They explained that this crisis is expressed in the increasing deterioration of natural resources, vulnerability to climate change, rural poverty, migration and social and economic infeasibility.

In this regard, Gil expresses that there is currently a bill that far from benefiting them, harms them.

"Now there is another bill for agricultural development and rural development but it has nothing to do with development, as it comes back to the issue of protection of monocultures and large agribusinesses, not the peasant," he laments.

In general, farmers say that they face great difficulties in obtaining financial resources to invest in agroecology.

It should be noted that 70% of national production is attributed to small-scale producers.

Trend worldwide
The organic market grows, and much, internationally. In fact, currently the big chains and food companies are opening in their gastronomic offers organic product lines, or failing that they are buying small companies to incorporate the organic.

"It's not a fad," says Muñiz.

Locally, too. In 2016, organic agriculture projected an annual growth of between 25-30%, according to data from the Office of Control of Organic Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture.

By then, there are about 16,089 producers and about 21 organic products, including grass and honey.

Data from the producers suggest that there are about 23,600 producers and 148,000 hectares dedicated to organic farming, which generate income of US $ 200 million.

These numbers predict that in the coming years this industry will be able to position itself as an important pillar of the national economy, according to representatives of the sector.


Certification is a big obstacle for many producers. I bet most of the food I buy and eat is more organic than I used to eat in the UK or in other islands that imported form USA. It sure tastes better.

In France it's an everyday occurrence shopping for organic foods  However not all foods are good so be careful  I have this great app on my phone which scan products and rates the product and gives detail information about the product and its ingredients  My eating habits have change I hope for the better.

Example  When it comes to coffee very few get good marks as a great deal of coffee beans are not of good quality Buying a whole organic chicken is great, the taste is so much better
Most organic vegetables are so much better-I'm surprised they do do frozen organic vegetables in DR these are not much more expensive than fresh.

Ducketts

Thanks great reply

Ducketts

I do buy a lot of produce being sold by roadside vendors taken from their land plots when I travel outside the city. And when we visit the campo we always get given fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in someones back yard plus pineapples which are grown commercially in that part of the world. We pick avocados and ginola from the few trees on our land and of course eat the chicken and eggs that are free range. Pigs are getting fattened and are rummaging around on plots of land eating anything they can find. Cows and goats are on open pasture and  the milk is taken daily and cheese is made too. And those cows and goats get butchered at some point too. Many Dominicans live like this, eating off the land from produce they toil over to grow and rear. Organic you might say without certification.

I think many here are mistaking "fresh" and "organic".  Organic implies grown naturally and free of chemicals.
Most of the stuff alongside the road is indeed pretty fresh, but many farmers who sell to roadside vendors and local markets (not supermarkets) do use chemicals and fertilizer.  With a large farming operation, that usage is carefully controlled while small mom and pops may over apply.
It's always good to ask a seller who grew the vegetables and were any chemicals used.

It is a fair comment to say synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are being used in areas of Dominican agriculture, but it certainly is not to the extent that exists in many western countries. Aerial crop spraying is not the norm., nor are tractors with wide boom spraying attachments.

On the positive side, if you buy from small farmers, you can be pretty sure they do not use much fertilizer on their plots deep in the campo with access only by mule because of the sheer logistics of getting it there. The likely fertilizers would be ammonium sulphate and urea which would be classed as synthetic even though they exist naturally. Equally the use of pesticides will be limited. Simple fact is that they cannot afford the cost of such products in large quantity. Rotation of crops is far more common.

DR has great potential to expand it's organic production led by producers who see exports as a driver with greater income from certified organic produce.

Fresh with taste is certainly better than GM modified, big, good looking, chemically treated for presentation and shelf life and often low taste fare.

In DR we are so lucky we can get fresh, tasty, less treated and sometimes organic locally produced fruit and vegetables, in comparison to the other small islands nearby without a local production and who import weekly from Miami.

This is an interesting subject for me with plans to grow a whole variety of fruit trees on a plot of land I hold in the campo.

Welcome to the forums!  That will be interesting, please keep us updated.

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