Fri | May 29, 2020

COVID leaves farmers in financial stress

Published:Saturday | April 4, 2020 | 12:10 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Elaine  Simpson, a farmer in Melsam, South East St Elizabeth, picks tomatoes despite the fact that there’s no market at the moment  because of the shutdown in the hotel sector due to the  COVID-19 pandemic.
Elaine Simpson, a farmer in Melsam, South East St Elizabeth, picks tomatoes despite the fact that there’s no market at the moment because of the shutdown in the hotel sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elaine Simpson and other farmers in South East St Elizabeth are facing serious financial setbacks from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has restricted her ability to travel to the Coronation Market in Kingston to sell tomatoes, cucumbers, melon and cauliflower, which they now have in abundance.

With buyers from hotels and restaurants, as well as other vendors no longer coming to her farm to buy so-called cash crops, Elaine can no longer look to the market to offload her surplus produce. In addition, she has to be paying a high price for water to keep the crops in the field going, in the hope of recouping some of her losses.

“Massa, me can’t tell you, dem de can’t go pon news. Me a tell you the truth only God and heaven know, it nuh easy,” she said when asked about her ability to continue to finance what appears to be a futile venture.

“Right ya now me son have one little piece of truck him haffi depend pon and this morning him say not even money fi buy water down a well him nuh have,” she lamented.

Simpson said that her son was sent home from his mechanic job as business had slowed down. She said the young man is a new father and her situation is of such that she cannot extend a helping hand to him at this time.

“Right ya now me stress out because me can’t get fi go market fi make a dollar and a that a my living,” she complained.