Bad weather cuts hard for Garapan Public Market

»Better times expected early next year

The Garapan Public Market is visibly empty of the produce and promise it showed on its opening day in August. However, the market hopes for a turnaround early next year, when they believe weather will allow the market to regularly avail of fruits and vegetables.

Isidoro Cabrera, secretary of the CNMI Farmer’s Cooperative Association, said the market has been “sustaining losses” as they do not sell enough produce daily.

While there is income, it is minimal, he said. On top of this, the lack of a chiller leads many of the produce to rot.

“We have about 60-some-plus co-op members but most of them are not producing at this time. Part of the reason is the bad weather. You cannot hoe the soil when it’s wet. If you want to plant something you have to wait several days or weeks to start tilling the ground because when it’s wet you cannot do much,” Cabrera said.

Operation hours and personnel have been cut to mitigate this shortage of produce, according to Cabrera. Despite this, he believes in a turnaround.

“When you enter the market it’s mostly empty…but the market will not close. It’s going continue to open, except we opened it in the wrong time in August,” he said. He believes they should have opened in November or December.

Ten to 15 percent of the 60-plus co-op members provide the market with produce, according to Cabrera. But even with that number, the farmers do not have enough produce to bring to market, he said.

He said local crops did not sustain enough damage from last month’s typhoons for farmers to avail of federal crop insurance.

Co-op farmers receive a share the market’s profit at the end of the year, depending on the value earned from the produce they sell at the market.

Cabrera believes the co-op’s members are obligated as owners to sell their crop at the market.

“In order for the market to grow, the members have to be active, supply, support, and benefit the market,” he said.

This week, according to Cabrera, the market will try to invite members of the Sabalu Market in Susupe to set up shop outside GPM. This, hopefully, would entice more customers to the market, he said.

Right now, they are looking to the Legislature for additional funds to purchase a chiller and help with operational costs. The Saipan delegation is pending an amount of $57,000 he said.

Other sources of funds may come through technical assistance of the Northern Marianas College. Cabrera said the college has offered its help with grant writing for U.S. Department of Agriculture and Administration for Native American grants.

These are “long term” solutions, he said. But the market “needs to start now” to obtain them.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.