Mocha farmers to stage Producers’ Market on Sunday

This article was taken from Stabroek News:

Refusing to surrender to the rampaging assault on their livelihoods by the ravages of COVID-19 the members of the Mocha Arcadia Multipurpose Agriculture Cooperative Society are set to stage their second Producers Market Day in two months on Sunday February 21, Chairman of the Society Raeburn Jones told Stabroek Business earlier this week.

Hastening to provide assurances that the event will be attended by an oversight input designed to ensure the strict enforcement of COVID-19 protocols, Jones told Stabroek Business that the decision to stage the event at this time was taken against the backdrop of what the Society has determined is the urgent need to provide a measure of practical material support for the small farmers and agro-processors who continue to feel an increasing financial ‘squeeze’ arising out of the restraints that have been placed on their ability to market their produce. The Producers Day event will commence at 6:00 hrs. and conclude at 17:00 hrs. and will be held on the open plot of land opposite the ‘Big Tree’ off the main access road.

Determined, it seems, to ensure the rigid application of the prescribed COVID-19 precautions, Jones departed from his account of the details of Sunday’s event to spell out for Stabroek Business the logistics associated with the precautionary measures.

 Participants in the event, farmers, agro-processors, logistical support personnel and visitors/ buyers will all, without exception, be required to wear masks during their stay at the site of the event. Meanwhile, sanitation stations will be set up for all participants   while the stalls will be arranged in a U shape, allowing for different entry and exit points. The customary six-foot distancing procedure will also be enforced.

Jones told Stabroek Business that the feedback received so far from farmers and agro processors suggest the around forty vendors from the Mocha community will offer for sale a range of fruit and vegetables including citrus, turmeric, ginger, thyme, ground provisions, agro-processing products, meat and chicken. Provision has also been made for vendors offering detergents, clothing and other items. “This is a genuine effort by the Cooperative and the community to help respond to the pressures that people are facing,” Jones said. Accordingly, Jones told Stabroek Business that it was the hope of the organizers that attendance and patronage of the event extend beyond the confines of the Mocha community and reach into other communities of coastal Guyana.

Jones reminded that last December’s event had been a ‘massive success’, the majority of the farmers reporting that their produce had been “sold out.” On that occasion, he said, patronage of the event had extended beyond the Mocha community to other East Bank villages and Georgetown. “We would want patronage to be extended even further this time around,” Jones said. He said that arising out of the patronage realized from last December’s event all the farmers and agro-processors had seen their client base extended. He noted that since then some farmers and agro-processors have had to recruit paid help in order to meet the increase in demand for products that has occurred since last December. “Since last December some farmers have actually begun to provide home delivery services. These now have clients along the East Bank corridor, in Georgetown and on the East and West coasts of Demerara.

Jones said that the organizational arrangements for Sunday’s event includes the mobilization of taxis/hire cars at the “Mocha road head” to facilitate persons desirous of being taken to the market day event and back to the public road. The agreed fare, he said is $100 per person adding that such protocols as have been applied for general public transportation will also be applied in this instance.  The minibus fare from Stabroek Market to Mocha is one hundred and twenty dollars.

Jones, meanwhile, credits Agriculture Extension Officer Mitzie Smith-Barker whom he says continues to use Facebook and other communication tools to continually promote the agricultural and agro processing pursuits of the Mocha community. Smith-Barker is also credited for what Jones says has been her support to Mocha farmers seeking to optimize land use.

He said that the efforts of the Mocha community have also secured the support of Professor Pat Francis and Dr. Lawrence Lewis of the University of Guyana and the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly – Guyana (IDPAD).

The Society’ farmers have received training in packaging and labelling, marketing, and accounting from the Ministry of Agriculture and IICA, among other agencies