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Vegetable prices rise

By LEISELLE MARAJ Tuesday, November 25 2008

LAST week’s heavy showers not only flooded the capital but also damaged, and in some cases destroyed, fields of food crops leading to a rise in the price of several popular vegetables.

A trip to several markets yesterday showed that tomatoes are priced between $10 and $13 a pound, cassava is $2 a pound, up from $1.50 a pound, while sweet peppers are priced at $10 a pound, an increase of three dollars from the previous price.

Wholesale, the price for hot peppers increased by $50 to settle at $400 a bag and cucumbers are selling at $350 a bag, up from $275.

A farmer out of Paramin, who did not want to be named, said she had to destroy her tomato crop and begin replanting after heavy rains ruined the November crop. She added the high cost of fertilisers also added to her distress.

“After spending $5,000 on that crop, the rains came and ruined it. We have to start anew and spend a further six to seven thousand dollars on the next crop.

And then we are blamed by government for high food prices. The situation is unfair to farmers,” she complained.

Sahadeo Babwah, another farmer whose field is located in Aranjuez, blamed the high price of tomatoes on low production.

With most crops being destroyed by heavy rains and flooding, he explained, farmers’ stocks are low or have been depleted.

“I am now planting a new crop of tomatoes but this will be ready in nine weeks,” he said.

Terry Bahal, a farmer in Caparo is predicting even higher prices as the Christmas season rapidly gets into full swing.

“People will feel the effect of the recent floods in about two to three weeks time when Christmas produce is expected to hit the markets.

There will be a shortage because of the floods,” he predicted.

Bahal, who said he is one of the largest grown cassava farmers said this crop would be particularly scarce since the access road to his crops has been impassable since the recent heavy rains.

“I have no access to my crops because the condition of the dirt road leading to it is deplorable.

The road has deteriorated because of the rains but mainly because of a lack of maintenance,” he lamented.

The rise in the prices of vegetables would come as bad news to consumers after the price of rice and poultry was reduced last week.

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