Jul 25, 2021 News
By Kellisha Hackett
Kaieteur News – The general economic slowdown since the onset of COVID-19 in Guyana, has seen farmers faced with a major loss in crops, a problem that has now been compounded by heavy rainfall and flooding. This in turn has left the greens vendors at the La Penitence, Bourda and Stabroek markets, faced with a two-pronged challenge that has been severely hurting their livelihoods.
Kaieteur News last week interviewed several vendors at the various markets who are facing a difficult time in making a profit. According to vendors, the buying price of produce such as okra, boulanger (eggplant), pak choy, pepper, bora, eddo leaf, tomatoes, has increased significantly.
According to one vendor at Bourda Market, the cost of living is already expensive, and she is struggling to make a profit at current prices.
“The same price I purchase the goods for, the same price I have to sell it for, because customers are not willing to pay a high price,” the woman told Kaieteur News. Moreover, she indicated that even so, she still has to pay to use the space that she sells from, at the same cost to the market officials responsible for vending.
A vendor who makes her daily bread at the Bissoondar Rameherita stall, located in the La Penitence Market, said that prices seem to be rising day by day. Boulanger which was only $2,500 a bag wholesale before the flooding is $15,000 a bag currently; pak choy is now $8,000 for 100 when previously it was being sold for $2,500 to $4,000 wholesale price. She said that even pepper has seen an increase to $1,000 to $1,200 a pound and when it was being sold at six to seven hundred dollars. In addition, cabbage which was $100 to $160 for a pound has seen an increase to $240 to $300. Tomatoes which were $100 to $160 a pound are now $500 wholesale.
She stated that she believes the farmers are exploiting them. Other vendors also stated the price that the farmers are selling these goods for are “ridiculous” and the goods are not even worth the price. This they say is a dilemma that is causing customers to not want to purchase because the price is more than the quantity, and the quality is not good enough. Still, others do not necessarily agree, acknowledging that because of the rain, farmers’ lands were flooded making it hard for them to harvest in a quantity as they used to.
“Farmers also need to make a living,” said one Stabroek Market vendor.
Most vendors agree that purchasing the greens from the farmers at such an expense with no guarantee that all the goods are in proper condition, is another major problem, leaving them often with a large number of perishable greens in stock.
A frustrated vendor vented saying, “How will we be able to make a living if we are not making a profit from what we sell? What will be the outcome if things continue to go on like this? Do the vendors have a future to look forward to if this continues to go on?”
A vendor at the A. Arhune stall, La Penitence, stated that these customers are complaining. Not only are the customers not satisfied with the price, they are also not purchasing greens as regularly as they used to.
Vendors this paper spoke to said, that despite their plight, there isn’t anything they can do about their situation because customers’ salaries remain the same. A vendor at Stabroek mentioned that they have to meet the consumer’s budget regardless of what they face. Vendors all indicated that it is their hope that as we come out of the rainy season the situation at the markets can go back to normal, leaving them with a better tomorrow.
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