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Carrot farmers affected by overproduction, but prices are rising says San Carlos’ New River Farmer Cooperative Max Hernandez

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Posted: Monday, May 30, 2022. 11:39 am CST.

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By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Overproduction of carrots is affecting farmers but the situation is improving as prices rise, says Max Hernández, Chairman of the San Carlos’ New River Farmers’ Cooperative Society in the Orange Walk District.

San Carlos is a village on the banks of the New River near Indian Church and the Mennonite community of Indian Creek. San Carlos is about 40 miles from Orange Walk Town via San Felipe.

Recently reports circulated that the San Carlos farmers were having to throw away their carrots because nobody was buying them because of the smuggling of the product from Mexico.

“That’s not true. We couldn’t sell our carrots because there was too much product in the market; the market was saturated. The selling price was too low,” said Hernández. “The price is rising now because production is going down. People weren’t selling because the prices weren’t good enough, the market was full. They were only paying $0.30 per pound. Now it’s at $0.50. And it’s going to continue rising. The middlemen weren’t buying because the market was saturated. They didn’t want to buy too much. In a few weeks, I believe we’re going to have better prices as production goes down. I believe we have like one more month of harvesting.”

Hernández said that farmers in the Stann Creek, Corozal, and Cayo Districts, plus the Mennonites, produced more carrots this year than they did last year. But now that they are selling the last of their product, things are looking better for the San Carlos farmers.

“This week the demand was 4,000 pounds. Next week it’s going up. That means Cayo, Stann Creek, and San Carlos are closing their harvest, so now only San Carlos is left. We are going to have a higher demand,” Hernández said.

Hernández said the New River Farmers Cooperative has sold 150,000 pounds of carrots and projects to sell 60,000 more during June.

Hernandez said that for three months, from March to May, sales were very low because the market was flooded with carrots. He says the harvesting started in October and is expected to close by the end of June.

Despite the situation, Hernández said that they haven’t lost any product.

“No, we haven’t lost our harvest. We haven’t been harvesting, but since prices are rising, we haven’t lost our harvest.”

Hernández acknowledged that there is contraband, but said the quantity is very small.

“There are people who cross it by the river, but the quantity is small so it’s difficult to control. But it’s not a quantity that affects us,” Hernández said.

Hernández said carrot production has been good, but the problem is the overproduction which saturated the market.

“We had a good harvest this year, but the problem is that since we have more farmers, there is more production, and the demand is low. We’re a bit sad because the market moved slow due to overproduction. Carrot production has always been good.”

Hernández said it’s a recurrent problem that happens every year. He said that at this time they only break even but the rising prices as the number of carrots in the market go down will help them turn things around.

Hernández said that last year the market was better controlled because there wasn’t that much product in the market and prices were stable.

“But this year, some of us farmers planted so much more, and clearly the amount of production is higher than the demand, there isn’t enough consumption,” he said.

Hernández said that from December to March production was very high, so farmers were selling the sacks for $15, at $0.30 a pound so as not to leave the carrots in the fields. However, he said they didn’t plant anymore for the fear of not selling it.

“It’s not a matter of quality. The product doesn’t sell because the market is saturated, too much production.”

But he sees the situation improving now for the 30 farmers in San Carlos, 20 of which are members of the New River Farmers Cooperative. In San Carlos, each farmer planted an average of two acres of carrots. So, in total, he says, San Carlos produced 60 acres of carrots from October to May.

 

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