WITH the rising food prices in recent months, the Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat has urged the public to be wiser in spending money.
He was speaking at the opening of the latest National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (Namdevco) farmers’ market at the La Horquetta Village Plaza on Saturday.
Suppliers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers have attributed the rising costs to the effects of the covid19 pandemic in a number of areas including increased freight and shipping charges.
Rambharat said most of the prices increases were on imported food but Trinidad and Tobago (TT) has not felt the brunt of the price increases when compared to other countries.
“A lot of the increases that we are seeing are on imported processed foods and we have been encouraging people to support local farmers and to shift their diet to things that they can afford.
“Even on local produce the prices can go up from time to time, but people have to buy the things that are affordable to them. A lot of people are talking about the price of tomatoes, but that is not really mandatory in your diet.”
He said farmers’ markets and municipal markets promoted fair pricing for produce and should be an option for fresh produce when compared to frozen and imported products.
Rambharat said people needed to move away from impulsive purchases and stick to a budget.
The Namdevco La Horquetta farmers’ market was the third market to be opened during the pandemic, which has catered for a wider cross-section of farmers to sell their goods, Rambharat said.
“This (La Horquetta) is an excellent agriculture community. We are looking to also get the farmers from Las Lomas, Cunupia, from the further East, Tunapuna and Caura to come here.
“Namdevco continued to ensure that the covid19 protocols were observed and has a strict plan to ensure it was carried out, as it has been at other facilities.”
With Christmas just two months away, Rambharat was hopeful that there would be an uptick in vendors, small entrepreneurs in food, beverages and crafts making use of the facility.
MP for La Horquetta/Talparo Foster Cummimgs said the farmers’ market will serve over 5,000 households from La Horquetta and Greenvale housing communities, and other neighbouring communities.
“The residents will of course support this because they now have a convenient option when compared to the Arima or Malabar markets. We expect a lot of support for this market.”
One vendor said before the Namdevo facility he sold his produce at intersections on the highway.
The 22-year-old said he planted his own crops of ochros, plantains, peppers, and more, and was happy an avenue was created in the community for vendors and farmers who were struggling.
He said, “I feel good that this morning when I came with a lot of goods it sold out. I even had to go home to get more to restock my tables.
“I used to bag out my goods and sell on the highway and that was risky. A $100 per month rental to use this facility would be handy for me.”
Another farmer, Harold Sankar, said it was a good investment for the farmers in the area, especially during this covid19 period.
“It is a challenge for us to sell our good, especially wholesale. The competition is stiff because of loss of jobs, people have turned to farming for incomes, which makes it difficult for people like me who were already in it.
“We all have to support each other, and I appreciate this so I can sell retail more regularly,” Sankar said.
Shopper Felix Alexis said the farmers’ market will now save him from going into Arima on Saturdays, which was time consuming because of the traffic.
“The prices here are reasonable compared to other places. Having this here is very good for the shopping residents and those who are selling,” he said.