-prices double at city markets
By Femi Harris
The severe flooding of farming communities along the coast is affecting the supply of vegetables to the major city markets, where both vendors and consumers are paying more than double the price for what they say is sub-par produce.
With East Coast farming communities like Mahaica and Mahaicony inundated in the past weeks, vendors are tapping an increasingly scarce supply of vegetables, while consumers feel they are being taken advantage of and are worried about the situation.
At the major city markets yesterday, the stories were all the same.
A vendor at Bourda Market revealed that as a result of the flooding on the East Coast, the quantity of fresh vegetables has severely declined thus impacting quality and price.
“The flooding situation is very stressful,” one Bourda Market vendor told Stabroek News. She added, “I usually get my vegetables from Mahaica, but now because of the floods you can’t get anything and if you manage to get from a few farms that are higher than the flood waters you have to pay a dear price for them and an even dearer price to transport them.” She also pointed out that customers do not understand the price they pay to get the produce.
“They think that we are exploiting them, but the truth is we pay dear for these things and we have to make a profit if we are going to continue business.”
When asked about the price fluctuation of key vegetables since the flood, vendors confirmed that both the buying and selling prices have gone up.
A number of vendors from the Bourda Market explained that before the floods they paid around $100 to $120 per pound of tomatoes. Now, the prices range between $240 and $280 per pound. Similarly, a bag of cabbages that sold previously between $3,000 and $4,000 is now being sold for $8,000 and $9,000.
In addition to the rise in prices, most of the vegetables are not of the best quality because of the abundance of water to which they have been exposed. One vendor said that when she received her celery and eshallot from the farm they were very yellow. She added that “customers won’t purchase goods looking like that, so there again we lose.”
The same problems exist with other popular vegetables such as bora, boulanger, pumpkin, calaloo and ochro, just to name a few. Bora that was sold at $100 per bundle is now sold at $200 per bundle at some places. The same is the case with pumpkin and ochro.
Vendors at the Stabroek Market also told of similar hardships during the flood period. A group of vendors from the market spoke of the high prices that they now have to pay for eschallot. Before the floods, eschallot was sold at $100 and $160 per pound. But with the present state of the East Cost flooding, they are now being sold at $300, $360 and even $500 per lb.
The Stabroek Market vendors also sounded the cry about the poor quality and unavailability of the frequently bought vegetables.
Some of them noted that with the present situation they are going to have to try and have the goods come from other farms, which is the case with some other vendors, so as to cushion such effects when they arise. Some vendors stated that they not only get their vegetables from farms on the East Coast, but from Berbice, Timehri and Parika as well. They nevertheless acknowledged that when one area is flooded, it can have an effect on the other areas in some way or the other, though it would not be as severe as if they were dependent on only one farm area.
Meanwhile, one consumer declared: “The vendors are exploiting us, every day the prices going up.” Another exclaimed “when yuh come to de market, yuh have to pay a fortune for lil bit goods and de quality is very bad.” Consumers are also complaining that the supply of vegetables is “barely enough to feed their families at one cook” and that “something should be done to ensure that we are not exploited the way these vendors are trying to exploit us.”