Consumers facing crisis at the supermarket, says Cousins
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Opposition Member of Parliament for Clarendon South Western, Lothan Cousins says the vast majority of consumers are facing a crisis when they go to the supermarket and the markets.
“It is no secret that the cost for basic vegetables have increased exponentially; we all would have encountered that in our households,” Cousins said Tuesday in the House of Representatives.
He was responding to a statement from the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Floyd Green, who told the House that the Government was providing $157 million to assist farmers who suffered losses as a result of the flood rains associated with Tropical Cyclone 22 that impacted the country on November 17.
Green also noted that some food items will be in short supply, in particular vegetables, and acknowledged that this could lead to price increases.
According to Cousins, who is the People’s National Party spokesman on agriculture, “We can appreciate that the vast majority of Jamaicans are also experiencing that increased cost of tomatoes, cabbage, carrot, lettuce, you name it”.
He argued that while the flood damage “would have set us back,” information provided by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) is that the July to September quarter experienced a decrease of nine per cent when compared to the corresponding period of 2022”.
“So we would have known from then that we were in a crisis and that there would be a significant shortfall,” he added.
“What the PIOJ referenced as the cause of that decrease was one, lower yields and two, reduced areas harvested. So it appeared as if there was not an appetite during that period for persons to start the farming process,” Cousins continued.
He said that while the country was now confronted with the flood damage, it was not the only cause of the shortfall.
However, Green would hit back, suggesting that Cousins had a political motive for some of the comments he made before withdrawing that suggestion but nonetheless accusing Cousins of spreading propaganda.
Green acknowledged that drought played a part in lower yields this year but insisted that farmers and fishers are gearing up for a good year despite the setbacks.