DAJABON, Dominican Republic – Smuggling of rice, chickens, eggs and other agricultural commodities in short supply in Haiti has been on the rise in recent days along the border with the Dominican Republic according to farmers and poultry producers.
Dominican troops posted along the border have expanded patrols, but the situation has not been brought under control, agriculture industry representatives said.
Rafael Díaz, president of the Rice Producers Association in the northwestern Dominican Republic, said surging food and labor costs, combined with low domestic prices, are providing incentives for the smuggling of agricultural commodities into Haiti.
Díaz said a pound of rice costs between 25 and 34 pesos ($0.72 and $0.99) in Haiti, while the same quantity costs only 16 to 18 pesos ($0.46 to $0.52) in the Dominican Republic.
Haiti is experiencing shortages of rice and people are purchasing the commodity at whatever price they can get it, while rice is abundant in the Dominican Republic, Díaz said.
The trade association president, however, warned that if the situation continued, the Dominican Republic could reach the point where it started to experience rice shortages.
José López, head of the Chicken Farmers Association in the northern region, said poultry continues to enter Haiti from the Dominican Republic clandestinely, despite a ban by Haitian authorities.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, with Haiti in the western portion. Though both countries are poor, Haiti is destitute and has recently been rocked by food shortages that sparked riots in some areas.