The Department of Agriculture is advocating a market-led approach to production for farmers, that will result in maximum returns.
Chief Extension Officer in the Extension and Advisory Services Unit, Kemuel Jn Baptiste, said such an approach will improve farmers’ chances of success in the production, marketing, and sale of fresh agricultural produce.
“We come out of a history where our agriculture was plantation oriented and those plantations had very specific markets—coffee, cocoa, sugarcane—whatever was produced had organized arrangements with the estate owners,” he explained. “We moved into bananas and we got preferential treatment so everything produced with bananas was sold. But over time that dynamic has changed. So while there were organized and established trading pathways for the plantation type crops, that did not obtain for the new crops that we diversified into.”
Today, a free market prevails, which results in an influx of imports in order to cater to market demand.
“Over time, with the opening up of trade, we have new entrants like supermarkets, hawkers, hoteliers, and persons who operate on behalf of the hoteliers, so now there are a whole set of new players operating in the marketing environment,” Mr Jn Baptiste said. He advised farmers to now reach out to buyers in an effort to cater to specific demands.
“We have been talking about this for a while but I’m hoping the audience will hear it a bit better this time, because frustrations are beginning to settle in. Farmers are producing and when they’re ready for harvest then they begin to seek where to dispose of their produce. What we are advocating in today’s environment is what is called market-led. If you decide to grow anything, whether vegetables, herbs, fruits, roots, there must be consideration first of all given to what you will do with it.”
Mr Jn Baptiste stressed that establishing relationships with buyers will help farmers determine what and how much should be planted, so that farmers get maximum returns from their investments.