This is Molinos del Ozama, the Dominican Republic’s lifeline for basic foodstuffs, part of a massive transnational corporation’s assets. It specializes in “whitey flour,” to encourage the consumption of which the company uses “tradition” as a marketing strategy. International assistance was procured to provide some needed supplemental nutrients in the flour.
All nation states in the Caribbean import food. One consciously tries to minimize this dependency and to do so in a sustainable and ecologically-sound manner. Feeding all of its people an adequate diet as much as possible through domestically-grown food is a priority in Cuba. Cuba’s efforts to increase food self-sufficiency and, among other things, Cuba’s urban agriculture have drawn considerable attention.
In contrast, the Dominican Republic has implicitly resolved itself to near complete food-import dependency. Imports from the U.S. mean that “[t]he Dominican Republic is the fourth largest market for U.S. food and agricultural products in the Western Hemisphere, behind Canada, Mexico and Venezuela,” a stunning fact. This allows the U.S. trade surplus with the Dominican Republic to be incredibly high for such a small country.
Molinos del Ozama’s production capacity was recently boosted by 50% through a wheat flour processing expansion that will enable increasing exports of DR-processed U.S.-based food products to other places. Exports to Haiti are high on the agenda. We know that in bad economic times, which have never left Haiti, dietary variety often is the first thing to get tossed out by poor people struggling to obtain enough calories to survive. It is just this type of variety that measures such as employed in Cuba can do much to allay.
By 2020, the terms of trade should get even better for U.S. agricultural interests. Perhaps the U.S. should be seeking Cuban-assistance for agriculture on Cuba’s large neighboring island to the east rather than mainly seeking markets for its subsidized surplus production.
P.S. Please see this video of the Harina Blanquita advertising campaign: