The public market in Garapan has stopped selling farm produce since late last year and might not be able to open anytime soon.
Aside from agreement contract issues with the government and organizational hurdles of the CNMI Farmers Cooperative Association, the bigger problem is that farmers don’t have enough products to sell to the public.
According to association president Crispin Deleon Guerrero, it was earlier proposed that the market open this month but this might not happen.
“With the absence of most fruit and vegetables, I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Deleon Guerrero said “I don’t want to open the market unless we got enough produce to shelf. Vegetables alone are not going to work.”
Deleon Guerrero said last year’s typhoons such as Soudelor have really affected their plants and crops.
He said there is not enough local produce on island and even some fruits are not flowering.
“We’re not going to open unless we have a good enough inventory to sell,” Deleon Guerrero said. “The problem now is we should be having mangoes and avocadoes this month but [there is] nothing.”
Even local bananas are not for sale on island.
“We don’t have any fruits to substitute the shelves,” Deleon Guerrero said.
He said they are looking at communicating with the other islands to send their produce for sale.
“If we can guarantee some produce from Tinian and Rota, then we can open the market,” Deleon Guerrero said.
However, the market also has other requirements that they need to comply with before they could open.
“We have to have a manager, we have to have an employee, we have to pay for [Commonwealth Utilities Corp.] and things like that,” Deleon Guerrero said.
For now, Deleon Guerrero said is inviting farmers to sell what produce they have on hand outside the public market building every Saturday. He said they will be there from 6am to 11am.