Agriculture - Farming Technology
In the 1980s, Dominican farmers still suffered from the legacies of Trujillo's neglect and industrial strategies that placed little emphasis on agricultural development outside the sugar industry. As a result, the average farmer used far fewer purchased inputs, such as fertilizers, tractors, and irrigation, than his counterparts in many other Latin American countries.
Some progress had been made in irrigation systems by the late 1980s. The poor distribution of the country's generally adequate rainfall necessitated the development of irrigation under the management of the governmental National Water Resources Institute (Instituto Nacional de Recursos Hidráulicos--INDRHI). The amount of irrigated land increased rapidly with the construction of several dams, such as Tavera Dam and Sabana Yegua Dam, in the 1970s and the 1980s. By the late 1980s, however, only about 139,000 hectares, less than 15 percent of arable land, benefited from irrigation. Further expansion of irrigation was a key to reaching self-sufficiency, particularly in rice production. INDRHI pursued ambitious plans for future irrigation; it was projected that more than 200,000 hectares of land would be functionally irrigated by the early 1990s.
The Secretariat of State for Agriculture (Secretaria de Estado para la Agricultura--SEA) attempted to improve farming technology through its extension service and a series of agricultural research centers. The greatest constraints were money and training. The Superior Institute of Agriculture, established in 1962 and affiliated with the Catholic University Mother and Teacher (Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra--UCMM) in Santiago, successfully trained scores of agronomists; it also achieved crop innovations, the most important of which, in the late 1980s, concerned sorghum and African palm oil. Several regional, and generally crop-specific, institutes also conducted agricultural research.
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