Vendors Complain About Increase In Price On Fruits And Vegetables

Viewers surely heard the following phrase at least once from their mother or doctor, “eat your fruits and vegetables”. It goes without saying that these food groups are key to a well-balanced diet and consequently good health. In fact, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is said to reduce cancer and other chronic diseases as they provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber and other substances vital to health.

Reality now is different for many though, if not most of us, as we do not eat nearly as much vegetables and fruits as we need. Part of the reason is plain-many people don’t enjoy eating fruits or vegetables. Another reason is the cost. Prices are often high and fluctuate at certain times of the year as well. What causes this? This is the focus of a three part story we have been working on, trying to find out why the cost of one of the most important part of our diet, vegetables, is unstable. Tonight we take a first look into our investigation. Dalila Ical reports.

Dalila Ical – Reporting

We start our investigation into the high cost of vegetables here at the market, the place where consumers have their pick.

For the most part, the public can access most vegetables, some of the more popular ones being onions, potatoes, sweet peppers, cabbage, cilantro, tomatoes and beans.

Throughout the year, the prices are unstable. During the last part of 2013 the price of tomatoes surpassed three dollars a pound. Retailers say this trend trickled into 2014.

Rosa

“Ahorita el tomate esta carro, el frijol también esta carro pero demasiado carro esta porque compramos el frijol a $225 el saco ahorita y nosotros solo lo damos a $2, $2.50, $3.00 la libra lo más carro no podemos más.  Eso es un saco de cien libras que vale a $225 y el tomate está a $3 y a $3.50 la libra pero antes estaba a $4 porque llego hasta $80 el balde.”

But what contributes to the rising costs at the market? Vendors say the most common reason is a poor supply to the local market.

Rosa

“Esta  escaso porque los menonas son los que traen tomate así y como los de Belmopán, Valle de Pas y ahorita no está entrando tomate es por el tiempo que hubo quedo escaso es por eso.”

District Agriculture Coordinator for Corozal Barry Palacio explains that the demand was not met in 2013 as a result of very little local production due to the weather.

Barry Palacio – District Agriculture Coordinator, Corozal

“The high rainfall has caused a lot of crop loses especially tomatoes, sweet pepper, a lot of pests and diseases have affected these crops and as a result very local production and the prices have gone up and even traditionally speaking the prices of vegetables go up around the months of November December.”

There is no doubt that in 2013 the weather was rather unseasonable, but the fact is that unstable prices at the market have been the trend every year. Palacio stresses that the major culprit, again, is the weather.

Barry Palacio – District Agriculture Coordinator, Corozal

“If it is not the high rain fall then it is the other end it is the scarcity of rainfall in that climate change that we are experiencing right now affects agriculture whether it is high rainfall or drought they both impact agriculture.”

Another factor that contributes to the high prices is that some people are simply advantageous. One vendor shares her experience particularly on tomatoes.

Alberta Queme

“De mi parte mío aquí lo mucho que ha llegado es a $3.50 y hoy oí los rumores de que hasta a $4 lo estaban dando pero no mas siempre se da lo que uno puede hacer.  Uno lo da más alto porque abecés porque esta escasos las cosas y hay gente que se aprovechan que hacen más de la cuenta.”

For some vendors though, keeping the cost of vegetables as reasonable as possible is important.

Rosa

“Nosotros no ganamos porque la gente también son pobres y nosotros nos conformamos con un poquito y darle un poco cómodo a la gente.”

This is only one side of the story. Producers, the Agriculture Department and even importers play a role in the industry.

While scarcity of vegetables at certain points of the year is the biggest reason for the hike in prices, there are factors that contribute to that scarcity. We’ll delve more into that part of our investigation in our subsequent newscasts and even take a look at how contraband affects the industry and the cost of your vegetables.

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