Kaieteur News – There can be no justification, none whatsoever, for the increase in the price of locally produced food items. The increase for imported items cannot be avoided because of the massive increases in the cost of shipping but this cannot be applied to locally grown items including ground provisions and greens.
It amounts to exploitation for there to be such a steep increase in prices of local produce on the markets. But the public can bring an immediate end to this exploitation by using their purchasing power.
Why should the price of rice have risen so astronomically? Rice is grown locally and the steep increase in the price is unjustified.
Why should the prices in fruits, vegetables and ground provisions have increased beyond the reach of the poor man? Why is a pound of plantain retailing for $250 per lb and a lb of sweet potatoes also selling for that price?
There was a flood last May which severely affected the production of cash crops. Many farms were under water for weeks. The government doled out billions in support to the farmers? So why now is there such massive increases in the price of locally produced food?
There is no shortage of locally grown food on the market. Or is there? After a flood there tends to be glut because the soils become enriched and the next crop tends to be bumper crop and prices are supposed to dip. So why are prices on the rise and by so much?
Obviously, there are persons who will be exaggerating the effect of the prices. They are claiming that people will starve. They know better. Prices have increased and are hurting the pockets of consumers but no one is going to starve because of the increase in prices.
Some prices may be seasonal. The price of ochro for example is $300 per lb. But there are times when the price for this item is $60 per lb and other times when it can be as high as $200-$300 per lb. Tomatoes are also the same. Not every increase in prices can be deemed a result of exploitative practices.
The price of bangamary has skyrocketed. It has more than doubled and this cannot be on account of the decline in catch. Some persons are cashing in on the global increase in prices and are unreasonably jacking up prices. There has to be a response to what is happening. There is a need for effective surveillance to be taking place. The authorities should be examining from where these increases are emanating. Is it originating from the farmers? Are the farmers demanding more money for produce? Or is it the middle-men who wholesale to the market vendors? Or is it the vendors who are putting large mark-ups on the produce?
Once the source of the problem is identified, then the relevant action can be taken. If the problem is with the middle men and/or the vendors, then the government should opt to establish temporary farmers’ markets across the country where only registered farmers can sell their produce. If on the other hand, the source of the problem is the farmers, then explanations will have to be forthcoming as to why the increase, given that the Dec-Jan rainy season has not yet been unfavourable to farmers.
Regardless of the causes of the increase in local food prices, consumers have the power to arrest this situation. If the prices are too high, do not buy. You can do without the $250 per lb plantain. You can cut back on what you eat. Once no one buys the provisions, the prices will have to decline. So, while we cannot do without food, a decline in purchases will lead to a fall in prices because the produce cannot keep forever. If you have to eat shine rice for a week, do it and see how fast the prices will come tumbling down.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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