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Increased business projected for farmers market

A local farmers market is projecting an increase in foot traffic today–courtesy of holiday shoppers hungry for fresh produce on the Christmas menu.

“I hope that our market sales for Christmas Eve will increase by at least 20 percent over the previous Saturday markets,”said Selima Hauber, propagation horticulturist at Lucayan Tropical Produce.”I expect that the foot traffic will also increase as Christmas is most probably the biggest holiday for grocery sales.

“I am very excited about this and hope people take advantage of the opportunity to serve freshly harvested(in some cases, harvested the same day!)local produce. In addition to our faithful patrons, I would love to see many new faces who will appreciate the quality of fresh, local produce and as a result, become faithful supporters of our market.”

It’s the first time the normal Saturday farmer’s market will adjust to offer Christmas Eve hours. It follows calls for more farmers markets to better tap into the local market, with the government even now in the preliminary stages of pumping tens of thousands into the construction of just such a commercial hub for each of the islands.

“I have been operating this farmers market for a little over three years now,”said Hauber,”and this is the first time we’ve had the opportunity to make the produce available on the day before Christmas.”

It’s a development that follows severalGuardian Businessarticles highlighting the need for local markets as the best way for Bahamian agribusiness to tap the local market and eventually form a cooperative focused on international trade. Ena Harvey, a Caribbean agribusiness expert with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, last month suggested local farmers must work at better communicating what food is still locally grown and available in a country overwhelmingly dependent on imports.

Once more common in this country than food stores, outdoor markets where Bahamian farmers and consumers haggled over the price of fresh, local produce have declined in number.

Just a handful now operate in New Providence, giving farming businesses the opportunity to hawk their wares independent of the middleman, grocers. Harvey asserts that old method of shopping better connected Bahamians to the country’s breadbasket and, if re-instituted could help to minimize imports and stem significant levels of wastage for local producers often unable to sell their goods for want of an established market.

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