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Local green gungo peas scarce

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Local green gungo peas scarce

Sorrel prices up, say Coronation Market vendors

BY SHARLENE HENDRICKS
Staff reporter
hendrickss@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, December 04, 2020

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Jamaicans accustomed to buying green gungo peas for Christmas are facing disappointment this year as the product is scarce, and has been replaced by the dry version which is imported.

Other popular crops for the festive season, such as sorrel and ginger, will cost more due to the impact of drought and recent flood rains, vendors at Coronation Market, the largest in the island, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Monica Thompson, a 55-year-old, who has been selling peas and other legumes in the market for over 10 years, said this year she had to rely solely on the imported commodity as her local suppliers were unable to meet demand.

“You won’t find any green gungo in di market right now, because the local suppliers don’t have any,” said Thompson.

“I get to understand that most of the farmers don’t have it to supply the vendors, because the drought and the rain mash up most a the crop, suh the green gungo not so plentiful this year. I couldn’t get any, so mi have fi just work wid the imported gungo,” Thompson added.

She explained that the imported legume, which she sells at $250 per pound, was more affordable than the local produce.

“I got the imported gungo at the wharf for a lower price than what the local farmers would sell it to me for. The local gungo is so expensive,” she lamented, but pointed out that consumers prefer it over the foreign produce. “But when I buy it local, the farmer dem sell it at the same price that I would a sell for. In order for me to sell it and make a profit, it would be more expensive than the imported gungo.”

Nathan Thomas, who also sells legumes at the market, said that he, too, had to purchase gungo peas at Kingston wharf, as farmers who would normally supply him with the local produce were unable to do so at this time.

“Only Christmastime you see green gungo. But it nuh available right now,” said Thomas. “I don’t see any, and I couldn’t get any. Only di foreign gungo is here right now. But you know, when it comes to Christmas is the green gungo people want. Ginger is here and sorrel is here, but no local gungo. I had to go to the wharf to get mine.”

Thomas also complained that the local gungo peas was more expensive.

“A 50-pound bag of the foreign gungo is for $12,000. The local gungo sell fi more than $300 a pound,” he said.

Meanwhile, sorrel inside the market was being sold yesterday for $200 to $250 per pound, while the price for ginger was between $150 and $180 per pound.

Kenroy Hewitt, a 39-year-old native of Bog Walk, St Catherine, said the supply of sorrel this year was low compared to previous years. He credited this to drought and heavy rainfall, explaining that in Bog Walk, where he buys his sorrel, local farmers were negatively impacted.

“Most a the sorrel crop dem spoil because a the drought from early this year and the rain. That affect the pricing,” said Hewitt.

“A suh when tings scarce, the price dem guh up,” he added.

“I know the farmers who plant sorrel so I just drive round and buy from them. But right now it expensive. My suppliers sell it to me for $180 a pound. But yuh have some farmer sell it [for] $200 a pound.

“The ginger sell more reasonable than the sorrel. I sell it for $150 a pound,” Hewitt said.

Howard Richards, another vendor selling sorrel, said he’s sticking to his price of $200 per pound. Richards said he sourced his sorrel from Clarendon.

“Sorrel cyah keep, so mi have fi sell it at a price weh mi can make back mi money. Mi buy it from the farmer dem fi $200 a pound, so mi sell it back fi $200 because it nah sell fi $250,” said Richards.

Christine Bantis, a vendor seen sitting over a pile of ginger, said she sourced the produce in St Ann, where local farmers were also impacted by heavy rainfall.

“Nuff a di ginger dem rotten because a di rain. The farmer dem sell it [at] $80 a pound and me sell it [for] $120 a pound,” said Bantis.

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