In agriculture, the Central Romana contribution has been significant. For decades the company depended on the import of varieties brought from Puerto Rico and Barbados, but in 1947 decided to create their Department of Agricultural Research, which has made great contributions in the agricultural field, especially with the development of new sugarcane varieties, mainly the ones resistant to pests, capable of tolerating prolonged periods of drought, and adaptable to low fertility calcareous soils.
Currently, 95 % of the areas used for sugarcane, more than 166,000 acres, correspond to the varieties patiently developed by Central Romana, allowing it to obtain a yield above 11%. The company has developed more than 15 new varieties for commercial use, which are patented and have taken between 12 and 15 years of continued seeding experiments, evaluation, field observations along with the results of a small pilot mill property of Central Romana.
Currently, 95% of the sugarcane areas planted, corresponding to more than 166,000 acres, are planted with varieties patiently developed by Central Romana in the Department of Agricultural Research, which has allowed it to outperform a 12 percent yield. Starting with more than 130 different varieties of cane, brought from different countries, the company has been able to develop more than 15 new commercial varieties, which are their own, each one of which has taken between 12 and 15 years of continuous seeding experiments, evaluation and field observations, along with the results of a small pilot mill of their property. Today, the company proudly owns a collection of 2,600 different parent rods, from where the offsprings are obtained for the development of future varieties. These extraordinary advances have also benefited not only the numerous private farmers within the company but also the other sugar mills, whose cane fields, in their vast majority, are now planted with sugarcane varieties developed by the Central Romana, without any financial cost to them.
Sugar Cane Cutting and Haulout.
Since 1990 Central Romana embarked on an intensive program of mechanizing the cut and haul of sugarcane, and now 50% of the cane is produced automatically, eliminating the use of foreign labor for these jobs, especially Haitian workers. The company’s objective is to continue this program uninterrupted, to cover the entire crop area to the extent allowed by the land’s topography, about 75% of the area, since it cannot automate the remaining 25% with the technology available, due to the ruggedness of the land.
The program covers all stages: land preparation, planting of sugarcane, crop work (application of herbicides, leveling fields…), cutting and hauling and transporting the cane to the mill. When the mechanization program is completed, the Central Romana will no longer need to depend on imported workforce and will be able to cover all their processes with national labour. Similar to what they want to achieve, but in another context, is the application of fertilizers that was previously done manually and is currently 100% automatic, including the use of aircrafts.
For all mechanized farming labour, the company has a) a fleet of 250 tractors with rubber wheels for harvesting and loading sugar cane b) 35 crawler tractors for land preparation; c) 20 power graders for roads and access routes preparation d) 47 combined units for cutting, which will increase whilst mechanization expands. Finally, the company has about 1,800 six ox-drawn carts for cane haulout for those that are still hand cut, and are used for transporting them to the railway stations strategically located in all fields.
Since the beginning of its operations, Central Romana has transported all sugarcane by railroads. For this purpose it has a modern railway network that carries all the cane from the fields to the mill. This network consists of 354 kilometers of standard width railway (56.5 inches), of which 140 kilometers are the main lines and 214 of which are branch lines and loading stations. This allows the company to deposit up to 22,000 tons of cane daily in the mills, within the first 24 hours after being cut, contributing in many ways to the company’s high yield.
For this efficient transportation, Central Romana has 17 locomotives, each weighing 20-tons and 900 wagons for cane, which mobilize about 4,000,000 tons of sugarcane during the 225 days, on average, a normal sugar harvest lasts. Transportation via railway, of all the cane produced, has been one of the factors that has contributed to the efficiency on the process and reducing production costs. The railroads available to the sugar industry in the country require constant replacement of the ties, which were imported or built with domestic wood.
Central Romana decided many years ago, to make a significant investment to make the ties of precast concrete, using the most advanced techniques. This investment has not only benefited the company, but also the country, as it has contributed to the preservation of the forest, as well as savings in foreign exchange.
Currently, Central Romana maintains a sugar production higher than 400,000 tons a year, based on two tandem, each of which has seven mills with capacity of 11,000 tons, which allows grinding above 20,000 tons of cane a day. The production level of the company accounts for about 70% of the total production of the country; Central Romana has become synonymous with the word sugar in the Dominican Republic.
Not only is the mill the largest producer and exporter of raw sugar in the country, but throughout the years it has also become the largest supplier of refined sugar in the domestic market. Refining operations began in 1970 and since then has been able to implement numerous extensions to its manufacturing capacity averaging about 1,000 tons of sugar every 24 hours. Thus, the Dominican consumer and industrial users of sugar, have a reliable supply at a price that is stable over time.
Livestock is another activity for which Central Romana has been recognized, contributing significantly to the country. The company’s first livestock operations date back to early 1900’s when they started planting sugarcane. Since its beginnings, the main focus has been the production of quality oxen for loading and transporting cane.
Central Romana was a pioneer in the use of artificial insemination methods in the country, through which they developed the mixture of races where the Red Roman stands out, livestock owned only by the company, of unparalleled strength to work. Besides being a good meat producer, it has the perfect structure for agricultural work, with thin legs, which allows them to penetrate in different lands and not get stuck in muddy areas. They also have great strength in their horns that allows them to resist the cane haulout.
Due to the development of the tourism sector and the increasing demand for good quality food, Central Romana decided to enter the meat production industry to supply the country’s hotels, for this reason it has its own cattle slaughterhouse porcine raising and the production of dairy buffaloes, for which it currently has 60 heads, popular for its performance and because their milk is used to manufacture mozzarella cheese.
They have also promoted the development of Romanero horse, characterized by their high performance and widespread use in agricultural tasks of which it has 3,000 equines. Today the company has more than 55,000 head of cattle of excellent quality. Due to this great production, Central Romana has become the main supplier of beef in the domestic market, thus contributing significantly to the protein intake of the Dominican people.