Dominican Republic sets up Technical Consulting Council to bolster beef and dairy sector

Written by Sarah Crozier

dominican repub cheese 500 332e2dominican repub cheese 500 332e2[Francisco Pérez processes product at Rottis Cheese, the only Dominican dairy company currently exporting cheese to the U.S.]Bringing together leaders in beef and dairy from both the government and private sectors in the Dominican Republic, NCBA CLUSA’s Prograna project, also known as the Safe Agriculture and Food Export program (USDA|SAFE) funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is setting up partnerships to get the industry ready for export and able to sustainably grow the sector.

The Technical Consulting Council (Consejo Tecnico Consultivo, or CTC) is a guidance and advice group formed by leading representatives from the private and public sectors who are involved in the livestock industry. Bringing together these partners with a range of expertise and ability to make decisions across levels of government and industry has proven to be an efficient way to reach agreement on issues relating to beef and dairy productions in the Dominican Republic.

“The most critical point… for the Dominican Republic is to get all the stakeholders working together. Strategic and drastic decisions need to be made in the next years in order to achieve our goals,” said Miriam Bueno from Texas A&M University’s Bourlag Institute. The Bourlag Institute, one of the USDA|SAFE partners, is working with the Dominican government to improve their equivalence standards, getting exports up to par with foreign markets like the U.S.

The ultimate goal is to get the Dominican market ready for export to international markets. Members of the technical council include key government research institutions such as policymakers and members of the Ministry of Agriculture, private sector leaders including Nestle for dairy and the Slaughterhouses Association for beef as well as training and investigation organizations like ISA University.

To date, 12 agreements have been signed coordinating the institutions represented on the technical council. These organizations also worked with the government to create a Presidential Commission to pursue certification to export beef and dairy products to the U.S., with technical support from the USDA|SAFE Prograna program.

The range of partnerships show the importance of supporting the sector all along the value chain, from the health of the cows to the processing of beef and dairy and warehouse management.

“My cows produce grade A milk, but somehow the milk collection center transforms it into grade C milk,” said one farmer quoted in the baseline study. Capacity building is needed at all levels, from farmer education to export certification and processing in between. Bringing this private-public sector group together, decisions to support this project will be able to be approved quickly and efficiently as well as supported by the best research and training.

To start, the baseline study for this project included research never before done in the Dominican Republic, setting up the foundation for a data driven capacity building, informing government and industry stakeholders.

“This project will be a success because it is focused on capacity building at all levels… [rather] than focusing on infrastructure. It needs to be an integral process,” said Rafel Vásquez, Director of the Food Science and Animal Production Department at ISA University.

As the USDA|SAFE project ramps up work, setting the foundation of partnerships to support the technical training is key. When training begins with farmers and processing centers, they will know that there is support from all levels of the industry and government and can be assured the project has set up a system in which they can succeed.