Farmers pleased with booming sales at Barbican farmers’ market
Sixty-year-old Fitzroy James was a picture of contentment as he sat in a minibus, selling 3,000 pounds of yam, Irish potato, cabbage, and other produce in Barbican, St Andrew, yesterday.
He was one of several farmers gathered at a mid-morning farmers’ market as the Rural Agricultural Development Authority rolls out a number of initiatives to help farmers get rid of excess produce due to the downturn in demand from key sectors – including tourism – a domino effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Less than two hours after James began selling, his stock had dwindled significantly.
“It’s tremendous! Couldn’t be any better! Mi glad fi dis opportunity!” he told The Gleaner as he assessed his sales. “We have food to eat in Jamaica, and I see the benefit of my farming.”
James told The Gleaner that the bulk of his produce is usually purchased by market trucks, which then supply various market vendors.
“I like how di people dem cooperate, and I don’t see any guys here trying to hustle away our things,” said the farmer, who hails from Wait-A-Bit in Trelawny.
Yesterday, more than 500 shoppers turned up at the location, with a traffic jam stretching to Barbican Square as vehicles were parked on both sides of the road leading to the Barbican football field.
Steve Glenister, CEO of Glenister Estate, usually sells callaloo and organic honey, but he used the opportunity yesterday to introduce customers to bitter melon.
“They are catching on to it. It’s used mainly by the Chinese and Indian communities,” he explained.
“We have run out of goods as you can see. We came with 200 bundles of callaloo, and it’s finished. I have to send for more,” Glenister said, clearly satisfied with the sales.
Yvonne Wiggins was not perturbed by the long lines and lauded the vendors for their efficiency.
“I got all I needed. I’m just waiting on the eggs, but it looks like I’ll have to leave it because the sun is very hot and they are not here yet,” shared the Franklin Town resident.
Another customer, Rohan Wilson, said the prices were reasonable but described the market as a chaotic scene.
“It’s not organised properly, and the information that we need is not readily available. You have to come to the front of the line to see what each truck has, so they need more signage,” Wilson explained.
Meanwhile, scores of customers were observed leaving the premises with empty, reusable shopping bags.
“Mi nah stand up in a dis yah sun yah fi faint, and yuh have to join more than one line,” lamented a customer who did not want to be named. “Mi cyah bother wid dat!”