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Local farmers have varying opinions on government’s decision to allow the importation of certain produce, even as, on many occasions, farmers contend they cannot find market for the same type of crop.
One farmer and former community tourism coordinator, Caudley George told OBSERVER media he and many of his colleagues are upset about the situation.
“Myself and other farmers are quite naturally upset that you have the items available here and they [government] cannot curtail these things. It is not a last-minute thing. The minister should have known about that. I am contending that they do know about it and they need to do something about it now,” George declared.
He was responding to the statement by Agriculture Minister Arthur Nibbs, who last week cautioned local farmers not to expect an automatic, last-minute ban on certain produce when there is a glut on the local market.
OBSERVER media was told that  there is currently a surplus of cassava. Pump-kins are at levels to meet the demand on the market, and tomatoes are in good supply and should increase significantly over the next four weeks. The minister said the information about those items was not conveyed to the ministry.
According to George, extension officers within the Ministry of Agriculture have dropped the ball in relaying information from farmers in the field to the minister and even the Central Marketing Corporation (CMC).
“At the moment, they are bringing in frozen cassava, as well as fresh cassava when these are available from local farmers in abundance. They are not relaying it to the Central Marketing Corporation which would be a good catalyst of what is going on in the country,” George said.
Another farmer Kenford “Boyie” Jarvis stated that due to lack of proper planning and communication, farmers contribute to the glut in the market.
“Farmers are just selfish. Farmers do a lot of stupidness, then blame government. For instance, I was talking to a farmer last week and he said that he planted 10,000 tomatoes. I asked him where is he going to sell it, does he have an export market? He said no and I said you know this time of year is tomato season so why you plant so much? And he said it will drive down the price.”
Jarvis said that if farmers do not plant and reap wisely, it may force them to sell their abundance of produce at a rate with which other farmers cannot compete.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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