Jamaica News: The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is looking to establish food marts at strategic locations across the island to enable consumers to have easier access to produce, in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, made the disclosure during a digital press briefing on Tuesday (March 31).
He noted that the initiative is part of measures by the Government to bring fresh produce to market, minimising the threat of waste resulting from the fall-off in demand from the tourism sector due to COVID-19.
Some farmers, who would normally supply the hotel and hospitality sectors, have had excess supplies of fruits and vegetables available for redistribution to local consumers.
Minister Hutchinson said that residents within proximity of these marts will be able to make their purchases at these facilities, thereby reducing overcrowding in the traditional market setting.
“Instead of the consumer going to the market, I would like to see us move the market to the consumer,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hutchinson informed that farmers have donated 30,000 kilograms of produce valued at $7.5 million to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security for distribution as part of the COVID-19 assistance programme.
He noted too that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has assisted farmers to market approximately $15 million worth of produce.
In the meantime, he said the National Fisheries Authority has met with representatives of the commercial fisheries sector to discuss, among other things, the fall-out in the sector as a result of COVID-19, especially as it relates to a downturn in export market for lobster.
Mr. Hutchinson said that the fisheries officers have also been ensuring that the Ministry of Health and Wellness guidelines and information, regarding COVID-19, are passed on to artisanal fishers.
He said it is estimated that the sector will have immediate fall-out of approximately $2.1 billion from losses of local and international sales.
Mr. Hutchinson noted that additional meetings will be convened with the stakeholders to craft a detailed response to the crisis.
Source: JIS News