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Letter from the Executive Director

Few regions in the Dominican Republic can match the diversity of the agriculture practiced by small and medium scale farm families in the northwest Dominican Republic.
Thanks to productive, irrigated soils and hard-working people, the regionís production boasts a wide variety of small grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables and root and tuber crops. However, despite this abundant and diverse agriculture, the regionís farm families and farm workers endure high rates of poverty, unemployment and malnutrition and out-migration is a chronic problem. It is widely accepted that the social and economic benefits of the productive potential of agriculture in the northwest Dominican Republic have not been realized. At the same time, input intensive agriculture is placing a stress on the regionís important, fragile and diverse ecosystems.

Internal and external forces are bringing about significant transformations in agricultural production and marketing systems in the Dominican Republic. The growth of cities, investment in international trade, an upward trend in the cost of off-farm inputs and an increasingly concentrated agriculture are pressuring small and medium scale farmers to improve the quality and consistency of their products while reducing the costs of growing and bringing these products to markets.

It was with this backdrop of opportunities and challenges that AgroFrontera was formed. AgroFrontera programs for small and medium-scale farmers are focused on raising the economic performance and operating efficiency of farmer cooperatives and associations, reducing the production costs and enhancing the environmental soundness of small-scale farming systems and aggressively pursuing opportunities for the sale of farm products in local, national and international markets. These system changes cannot take place in isolation. Many partners in business, finance, and the environmental and community development sectors need to cooperate with farmers and farm workers to implement these system-wide changes. Systems change is a slow process. AgroFrontera is committed to work with these communities over the long-run to design and implement changes that promise a better quality of life for farm families, their community and the natural resources in the surrounding landscape.

Frederick V. Payton
Executive Director, AgroFrontera

 


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