Farmers’ market seeks to ease glut

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — A basket of assorted fruits and vegetables available here to purchasers at the knock-down price of $1,200, is an offer at one of a series of farmers’ markets intended to help relieve the produce glut and plough back some of the earnings lost by the Jamaican farmer, mainly from the closure of resort hotels resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

It was Mandeville’s turn last Friday to benefit from the heavily discounted package negotiated through collaboration with the Manchester parish office of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the parish farmers, and fresh produce bulk purchasers Glastonbury Purveyor Co and AL Golaub and Sons

According to RADA parish office Deputy Manager Carl Myers, the organisation’s role was to assist in coordinating the sale. He noted: “We (RADA) bring the farmers and the purchasers of the produce together and provide the location (RADA office compound) for the sale to the public.”

He said it was a Government intervention to alleviate some of the hardships experienced by vegetable farmers, in particular whose produce do not find a ready market outside of the tourist industry.

The deal includes a variety of lettuce, eggplant, squash, pak choy, papaya, cabbage, pineapple, zuchinni, cucumber, tomato, cantaloupe, honey dew and watermelon, weighing up to 20 pounds (over nine kilogrammes). Before the advent of the highly contagious and deadly COVID-19 pandemic that shut down the tourist industry, these items were mainly destined for the island’s resort hotels.

On Friday, a sizeable crowd of bargain hunters, who had been invited though media promotions to put in their orders online, gathered at the RADA compound, patiently awaiting the produce truck, which showed up more than an hour later than its noon scheduled arrival.

Charmaine Heron, a Mandeville housewife, said her wait began as early as 9:00 am as, unsuccessful in her attempt to register her order online, she wanted to be first in line. She praised the idea as a “very good gesture” which will benefit many who could not afford to buy fruits and vegetables at their regular prices. It’s a far better outcome, she concluded, than to see them spoil and go to waste.

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