Agriculture and fishing
Agriculture is important to the economy, although its importance has decreased since the end of the 20th century. Sugarcane dominated for a long time, but today cocoa is the largest export crop. Tobacco and coffee are other traditional crops. Half of the land area is used for cultivation and pasture land.
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Nowadays, around one in eight Dominicans is employed in agriculture, compared to six out of eight half a century ago. Many small growers can hardly cater for their crops and often supplement selling handicrafts such as baskets, ceramics, rocking chairs and straw hats.
Sugarcane cultivation has been declining for a long time due to falling prices and reduced export quotas to the US. Several state-owned sugar mills were sold out under President Leonel Fernandez (2004–2012); most of them shut down production completely. However, increased demand for biofuels has raised hopes of increased production. For Dominican Republic defense and foreign policy, please check themotorcyclers.
Since the late 1990s, the Dominican Republic has made a successful investment in new export crops such as pineapple, oranges, vegetables and flowers. The production of organic export goods has grown strongly, such as bananas for the US and European markets. The tourism industry has contributed to increased demand for meat, eggs and milk products.
Fishing covers the domestic needs, but large-scale fishing does not occur.
FACTS – AGRICULTURE
Agriculture’s share of GDP
5.5 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
48.7 percent (2016)
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Tighter rules for citizenship
The Constitutional Court states in an indicative case that only those born in the country by parents with a permanent residence permit (or citizenship) can become Dominican citizens. This should apply to anyone born since 1929, potentially affecting three generations of Dominicans with Haitian roots, or hundreds of thousands of people who have lived their entire lives in the country. The court also orders the electoral authority to identify persons without the right to national ID documents and citizenship. The judgment involves a contentious interpretation of the 2010 constitution (see Political system), which also states that the rule of citizenship should not be applied retroactively. The UN Human Rights Commissioner (OHCHR) and the Caribbean community Caricom express concern and criticism of the verdict.
The Vatican recalls the envoy
The Vatican is calling back his envoy because of allegations in Dominican media that he committed child sex abuse.
Mining companies are stopped for environmental reasons
The government says no to a request from a mining company to extract nickel in a mountain area with tropical forest. The decision is made since the UN development program UNDP has refrained from exploitation for environmental reasons and for the sake of the inhabitants of the area.
A power struggle leads to exclusions
Ex-President Hipólito Mejía and three other top politicians are excluded from the PRD following allegations of disobedience. The party makes the decision after just over a year of power struggle between Mejía and party leader Miguel Vargas. A couple of weeks later, a group tries to storm the party headquarters when the leadership holds a meeting. Shotgun breaks out and six people are injured. Vargas accuses Mejía of hiring a mob to occupy the headquarters.
Campaign against illiteracy
President Medina announces an ambitious plan to eradicate illiteracy in just two years. He wants, among other things, the help of 25,000 volunteers who will teach the over 700,000 adult Dominicans who, according to official information, cannot read and write.
Disputed gold mining begins
Production starts at the Pueblo Viejo gold mine, despite protests from local environmentalists, the Catholic Church and politicians. The critics fear that the extraction will lead to environmental degradation, not least because cyanide is used in the mining. The mine was formerly run by the state, but was forced to close in 1999 due to environmental problems. Now the operation has been taken over by a Canadian company, and the new investment in the mine is the largest in the history of the Dominican Republic.
Medina takes over as president
Danilo Medina will take over as president after the May victory.
PLD’s Medina wins presidential election
PLD presidential candidate Danilo Medina wins with 51 percent of the vote already in the first round of elections. The main opponent, the PRD’s Hipólito Mejía (president 2000-2004), receives 47 percent. The opposition accuses the government of cheating.
Grand victory for PLD in congressional elections
Elections are held for the congress. Widespread incidents of violence occur during the election day itself and five people are killed in clashes between government supporters and the opposition. Figures from the electoral authority indicate a grand victory for President Fernández PLD in the Senate, where the party won 31 out of 32 seats. PLD also wins in a majority of the country’s municipalities. In the Chamber of Deputies, the PLD takes home 105 of the 183 seats, while the PRD gets 75 seats.
New constitution comes into force
Since the Congress adopted a number of constitutional amendments in October 2009, a new constitution will come into force. Among other things, the rules of the presidential office are changed so that a president may be elected an unlimited number of times but not sit for two terms in a row. Dominicans living abroad receive seven seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Abortion is totally prohibited (see Social conditions).