While farmers have been hard hit by heavy rainfall and resulting floods, government is working to bring undercover vegetable production on stream to stabilise production levels.
Wayne Inniss, Chairman of the National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (NAMDEVCO), told Loop News the project is expected to become operational by the last quarter of 2022.
He made the disclosure as he noted that consumers enjoyed comfortable retail prices for produce between April and May, but have now found themselves paying more for less.
Inniss explained that current weather patterns have had a major role to play in driving up vegetable costs.
“The early onslaught of the rainy season and unusual successive days of rainfall from the start of June, and even up to now has been a key factor. Rain has fallen almost every day.
This has affected farmers’ land preparation activity and has resulted in a decreased level of vegetable production. Because of this, what we’ve seen is basic Economics 101 – the demand is greater than the supply, so with the regular supply scarce, prices have shot up.”
Beyond the land saturation following prolonged rainfall, Inniss said there’s been a shortage in the supply of some vegetable seeds.
Additionally, melongene and bodi farmers, in particular, have encountered challenges in their crops reaching to maturity.
“The heavy rains are causing the flowers to get knocked off. If the flowers don’t hold, the produce won’t mature,” Inniss explained.
The effect of the problem can be seen in the retail prices at markets on Wednesday – around $20 per lb for melongene.
The NAMDEVCO Chairman advised consumers to invest in a kitchen garden in their available spaces as much as they can, to help cut back their produce bill.
“Home gardening will make local produce more easily available and cause prices to go down over time,” he said.
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