Marketing Consultant with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Derrick Deslandes has attributed the high supply of locally produced fresh vegetables to the successful production thrust by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries; the tenacity of local farmers; and good weather.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on January 13, Mr. Deslandes said that consumers should take advantage of the current low prices for the local crops in the market.
He explained that there is no magic answer to the oversupply now available, and suggested some strategies that could address the issue.
“One part of the solution is to increase the level of consumption and that would take off some of the pressure. The second element is to engage our agro-processors to process more of these items. Canning tomatoes present a possibility and producing paste is also a possibility,” he said.
In addition, Mr. Deslandes is encouraging supermarkets, food retailing establishments, hotels, cook shops, restaurants and householders to purchase and offer a little more vegetables with prepared meals. Another solution, he said, is to encourage consumers to buy fit green tomatoes and store them. Cabbages and carrots can also be stored for a relatively long time.
“The thing about what is happening is that in another six weeks, prices are going to go back up as the current crop levels off,” he said.
The Consultant argued that in the medium to long term farmers will recognise that this system cannot continue, and will be willing to self regulate themselves, deciding how many acres are planted, and entering into long term contracts with buyers.
“It’s difficult to tell a farmer, what to plant, when to plant and where to plant, but the contracts will force the farmers to produce what is demanded and not what they feel like producing,” he said.
CONTACT: O. RODGER HUTCHINSON