Value for money, but lines too long
Consumers give views on RADA farmers' marketMonday, May 04, 2020
BY GARFIELD ROBINSON
The consensus among shoppers at last Thursday's farmers' market staged by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) in St Andrew, was that despite the long lines it offered value for money.
Held at Barbican playfield, the market attracted a large crowd eager to purchase fresh local produce in keeping with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries' appeal to help Jamaica's farmers who have lost markets, particularly in the tourism industry, due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
“I think what they should do is have a day for seniors because I see a lot of them in the line and it's very stressful with the heat and everything,” one shopper who gave her name only as Jennifer told the Jamaica Observer.
However, the market, she said, offered value for money and she recommended that it be held monthly, even after the coronavirus has run its course.
Another shopper, Judith, agreed, but suggested that the market be held over a number of days to reduce the crowd.
“I see them making an effort to organise, but the lines are long and I think one day is a little bit too little for this kind of effort, but apart from that it's good and I have got value for my money,” she said.
Shelly-Ann McCalla said she was satisfied with the prices and declared that the “quality of the food being sold is excellent”. However, she, too, found the lines too long.
“I think it's a good deal, but it needs better organisation,” said Harry Lee. “You have to wait too long in the lines, but at the end of the day I think it's worthwhile.”
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, in whose St Andrew North Eastern constituency the Barbican playfield is located, admitted that the lines were too long. However, he said the organisers will correct that at the next staging of the market.
Chuck, who said he had reached out to RADA on seeing the agency overburdened with farm produce, explained that after arranging for the playfield to be used, he advertised the market on his social media pages.
“I did not expect the huge turnout. Unfortunately, we could have had many more trucks and suppliers, and hopefully if we do it again we'll have many, many more suppliers and more lines, like 10, instead of four, six lines,” he said.
“My hope is that in the future nobody should be waiting longer than 10 minutes to get through,” he added.
“We're learning from this first experience. The support has been beyond all expectation. What you're seeing here today is the strong support being shown to farmers by people in St Andrew,” Chuck said.
That view was shared by Floyd Green, junior minister in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.
“This is an overwhelming turnout. We are on a mission to help our farmers move excess produce and we're very happy that Minister Chuck has come onboard to help the farmers' market in his constituency, and you can see the people are willing to purchase,” said Green.
“This should encourage our farmers to continue planting as we, through RADA and the ministry, will help to organise ways in which they can move their produce,” added Green who said he had spoken to Chuck about staging the farmers' market again this week.
“The reality is that this is just one of the interventions,” he said, adding that private partners have come onboard and now have regular mobile markets. He also pointed to the inaugural drive-through farmers' market held at the Agricultural Marketing Corporation complex on Spanish Town Road the day before where, he said, 11,000 pounds of produce was sold.
“So the reality is that we're going to continue doing this until we feel that we've really moved the excess produce. But more than that, we're doing this so the farmers can get back into the field,” Green told the Observer.
He also appealed to Jamaicans to continue buying Jamaican. “The only way we are going to help our farmers through this crisis is if we buy local. So I would say to them 'Say yes to fresh'. Go out and buy our fresh produce wherever you see it, whether in the market, supermarket, buy the fresh produce because ultimately you're supporting our farmers,” Green said.
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