Tonight, our headline story isn't about killings or violence - but there could be daggers drawn around the dinner table if some folks don't see rice and beans sitting beside their turkey!

And right now - beans is very scarce and very expensive - along with a whole bunch of other fresh veggies - and that's because of the flooding of farmlands from Hurricanes Eta and Iota.

Courtney Menzies took a trip to the market today to learn firsthand from the vendors and consumers about their plight - which could be coming soon to a kitchen near you!

If rice and beans is a staple in your Christmas dinner, well you might want to start stocking up on the beans. These precious legumes have become like gold. They are in short supply at the Michael Finnegan Market, along with other vegetables used in everyday cooking.

Voice of: Market Vendor
"Vegetables are really scarce right now, cilantro, cabbage, we don't have cabbage in the market right now. No beans in the market, if you go look around there is no beans in the market, all beans scarce, all beans. When we get it's $250 for one sack."

And for some of the vegetables that are available, the prices are exorbitant - almost double in some cases.

Voice of: Market Vendor
"Cilantro has gone up, we pay $60 for one bag that has 5 pounds, and it comes up to like $12 a pound so we have to sell it for like $15. The cabbage we are paying like $200 for one sack of cabbage, local, and it's not really that pretty cabbage, and when we clean it we get like twenty pounds out of waste so it's not really a big profit we get out of cabbage right now."

Brian, Market Vendor
"You have cabbage, you have sweet pepper, you have cilantro… but all of this is due to the weather, according to the farmers. So normally you like $3 for a pound of sweet pepper and now it's up to six, cabbage like 1.50 a pound to 3.50 a pound right now. We buy like a sack of cabbage nearly $250 a sack for 100 pound, then we have to buy bag."

Sebastian Nunez, Consumer
"The market thing right now, is the cilantro, the carrots, $2.50 a pound for carrots, four dollars a pound fi cabbage, six dollars a pound for sweet pepper."

Courtney Menzies:
"What were the prices like a few months ago?"

Sebastian Nunez, Consumer
"Well to be straight, miss, sweet pepper was going for a dollar a pound. Carrots, well to be straight, they had dollar bags of carrots, you could get a dollar bag of carrots, you could see a pound of carrot for $1.50 the most. You get a pound of cabbage for $1.25 but not right now."

And now, the vendors are left between a rock and a hard place. If they don't raise prices, they risk making losses because flooding has made supplies scarce

The floods that affected mostly the Cayo and Belize Districts have washed away fruits and vegetables that tend to grow closer to the ground. One Mennonite farmer says he has no choice but to hike up his prices.

David Greens, Farmer
"He says that he has watermelons, cantaloupe, sweet peppers, and cilantro but the flooding made everything spoil. He say he has to raise it to get the expense that he has already invested in what he has already lost."

And from the farm to the table, consumers are also feeling this pinch. One food vendor told us that she doesn't want to raise her prices but she may soon have no other option.

Ernestine, Consumer
"I got a little business and like when I come to buy the things, the price, oh my goodness, to start with the cabbage, three dollars a pound, I don't know why they have it so high. Then they red beans, you go to some of them, you get it for $2.77, two dollars, and the beans hard, hard, hard."

"It affect me a lot because then like I don't want to raise the price of my stuff, I don;t know what to do sometimes I say maybe like I would have to cut them smaller to try make a profit because then like sometimes when I do sell the thing, for instance right now the cabbage I buy, I have to tell my daughter we have to cut down on the sauce, because usually when people come they want a lot of the sauce, the pepper sauce especially."

The CEO in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food security, and Enterprise, Servulo Baeza, confirmed with us that there is a shortage of beans, but they are working to rectify this situation as well as to ensure that there is availability of produce for the Christmas season.

Market Vendors Want GOB To OK Veg Imports

As for carrots and cabbage in particular, the exorbitant prices are the result of scarcity because vendors can only source them locally.

Short supply and high demand drives prices upwards, and, tonight, the vendors are making a plea to the Agriculture Ministry to allow the importation of these vegetables. Sebastian Nunez, who frequents the market everyday, acted as a spokesperson for the vendors.

Sebastian Nunez, Consumer
"The reason why the carrots is on another level of the price and the cabbage, the vendors in the market are complaining to me that they don't have a permit and they [government] doesn't want to sign the permit for these things and these are the essential stuff that the people need in the market. That is the reason why the carrots are at $2.50 per pound and the cabbage are at $4.00 per pound and the people in the market who are doing the selling and the people on the streets who are the customer are pleeing to whosoever the run as the minister that could sign, we are not pointing fingers, but we are asking please if you could consider us. It's not only the people in the market or the people shopping at the market, but it's countrywide, if they could please sign so that we can have these things in abundance in the market so that we don't have to go through these complaints."

CEO in the Ministry, Servulo Baeza, told us that while they are considering importation as an option, they want to ensure that the local farmers are able to sell all their produce first.

Servulo Baeza, CEO, Ministry of Agriculture
"Both in Cayo and Orange Walk we do have some farmers right now who are harvesting carrots and cabbage. There is a limited amount, but we do have some farmers right now who are harvesting and if we were to open the market and import then obviously some of those product from our local farmers might not be sold and so we would be competing with importation or what is locally produced. So we need to get our local produce out first. The ministry is trying to make sure that we don't have a shortage in terms of those 2 vegetables specifically right now at this moment. Once we have the local produce already moving or already sold then we will go ahead and give out licenses for those 2 right now. I know there is a lot of demand for those 2 particular products right now, but like I said we do have right now. Some farmers that are harvesting right now and some of it is being lost because of the heavy rains and so we need our farmers to sell their first. We will make sure that our farmers sell theirs first and then we will consider importation."

According to the vendors, only one farmer is currently supplying carrots to the entire market. As for cabbages, we only noted one vendor selling them on our visit.

Channel 7