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Demand for local produce rebounding

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Business Guardian last Thursday ran an article which highlighted the slow but sure change in the purchasing habit of consumers in favour of local produce. This has to be one of the more positive developments in the economy, which must be developed and cultivated if we are to reduce the amount we spend on imported food.

I tend to agree with this, since I am quite pleased with the bounty of local produce I am seeing available. In addition, I am seeing more and more people setting up small vegetable and fruit stalls, in an effort to employ themselves, fruitfully (no pun intended).

I trust that with this trend, local stakeholders would strive to increase their market presence, since I can assure you that when it comes to local produce, especially such things as meat (chickens, goat, ducks etc), I am satisfied that our local producers can provide such quantities which will satisfy the local market. More so with an impeccable quality. I also put it out there that I make sure not to purchase any foreign chicken (yucky), goat or ducks or even fish.

When it comes to local fruits, I make sure I look for Tabaquite pineapple, Mayaro watermelon, Rio Claro bananas, and mangoes from everywhere to buy. I am so happy to see balata, sapodilla and pommecythere giving apples, grapes and pears stiff competition.

As matter of fact, I happen to know that Tobago hoteliers are some of the biggest buyers of fruit, vegetables and coconut water, so that market alone, once restored, can ensure that gardeners get a profitable yield.

I also noted that salad inputs were identified as contributing to the demand, and this included green vegetables such as cabbages, lettuce, water cress, cauliflower, kale and cucumbers. May I add now that local pepper sauce is also a major contributor.

So I can’t understand why we are importing bell peppers, cabbage lettuce and US cherries at $50 a pound.

In fact, there are some days I go to any of the supermarkets and I see absolutely no reason for the importing of some of the items. Case in point, I recently saw Hawaiian bread at a major bulk buying chain, which I was shocked to see people actually buying. Again, I wonder, if there are so many problems for US dollars, why does the Government not impose some kind of control, eg negative listing on such items.

I wish to urge everyone who has a green space, to plant a small kitchen garden. Some years ago, a former Minister of Public Administration, Peter Taylor stood up in City Gate and was handing out seeds, urging citizens to grow their own food until the then PNM could source cheap food from El Salvador. So that alone tells you about their efforts at local agriculture and a yet another former minister brandished one cucumber in the Parliament as a testimony to the bounty of produce that came from the mega farms in Chaguaramas—yes ONE cucumber. that says all about their past administrations’ success in agriculture - all to nought.

A julie mango tree can be cultivated in a small space. A paw paw tree is quite resilient as is a sugar apple tree and these don’t need much space. In fact, you would be surprised what can be grown in pots on the back step or in pots and hung from rafters of the garage.

God Bless This Nation.



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