ST Catherine residents are the first to benefit from a Government subsidy on the price of eggs through the Egg Farmers Association of Jamaica, resulting from the decimation of markets in the hotel sector.
Roy Baker, president of the Egg Farmers Association, told the Jamaica Observer at a farmer’s market in Portmore yesterday that the subsidy came through an agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture to increase sales by bringing eggs to consumers at a reduced price.
“This really came about because of the loss in sales in the hotel industry. Most of the farmers in that industry have excess eggs so we are very excited for the opportunity to bring the eggs at a reduced price hoping that more people will buy up the eggs,” said Baker.
At the subsidised cost, two dozen eggs went for $500, or $6,000 per box, with farmers making marginal profits, Baker said.
“This is a substantial reduction and it is subsidised to that level by the Government. The farmers also are selling better than break-even. If they did not get the subsidy from the Government, they would be below break-even,” he added.
“Today we had three different farmers at this location and two of them have totally sold out and I expect that the last farmer will be sold out in another hour. So the association is very grateful to the Ministry for the assistance to our farmers and we are happy with the results.”
In the second week of the lockdown in St Catherine to reduce the spread of COVID- 19, egg farmers who are members of the association have been setting up shop at several locations throughout the parish.
John Sherman, an egg farmer in St Elizabeth who although was not present at the farmer’s market, sent his staff with a truck loaded with boxes of eggs. In a phone interview, he said he had to cut back on production with hotel closures in March.
“When the hotels started to close down I had to take out some of the chickens and stopped feeding one coop altogether. From that time production went down,” said Sherman, “but we are happy for the help from the Government,” he continued.
Going forward, Jones said egg farmers will be going to other locations in an effort to sell the excess eggs that they have, although the prices may not remain subsidised.
“We want to spread it to other parts of the country but it might not be at this price because I don’t know how long the Government will afford to keep the subsidy. But even without the subsidy you can expect farmers to sell about $7,500 a box,” said Baker.
Yesterday, however, scores of Portmore residents made use of the reduced price of eggs while stocking up on grocery and other essential items.
Residents who spoke with the Sunday Observer said shopping had been much smoother in the second week of lockdown as the Government added two more allotted days –Monday and Friday.
“This morning I came out from 6:45 to go the Money Gram and it was smooth sailing,” said Marcia Crumbly, a resident of Greater Portmore.
“Since then mi have time to go do my shopping and I came over here to get my eggs and ground provision,” the woman stated. May Gordon, 87, who was spotted carrying a tray of eggs at the market, was in a cheerful mood inspite of the lockdown.
“Mi give God thanks and praise because mi nuh hungry,” said the elderly woman.
Lines at two remittance outlets were less crowded, with police personnel ensuring that people were observing social distancing.
Jody-Ann Craig, supervisor at the Portmore Mall Money Gram location said operations have improved compared to the first week of lockdown.
“We try to work as fast as possible to ensure that enough persons get through in time because we close at 3:00 pm on a Saturday. We also try to assist with the lines and the police and security officers have been helping us. So things have been much better,” said Craig.
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