Director calls for reintroduction of the AMC marketing model
Kevin Condappa, acting director of the agricultural services division, has called for a return to the defunct centralised marketing system known as the Agricultural Marketing Corporation (AMC) with headquarters at 188 Spanish Town Road in Kingston and which had buying stations and distribution depots across the island.
From Monday to Saturday it bought, collected, processed, and distributed a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and other crops. In addition to wholesale distribution to supermarkets, restaurants, canteens, hotels, and higglers, the AMC had retail outlets serving householders around the island with quality products, washed, graded, and sold at stable prices. There were also exports to the United States, regional markets, and the United Kingdom.
Condappa, who was speaking at a recent agricultural information forum hosted by JAMPRO at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew, floated the idea of a return to the AMC concept as a solution to the distribution issues that continue to plague the local agricultural sector.
"In 2017, I was in St Elizabeth in the Flagaman area. Farmers were selling scallion for $10 per pound and saying, 'We have no markets, so we have to be giving away scallion'. I went to St Mary that weekend and was told that scallion was selling, and my mother told me that scallion was selling for selling for $170 per pound. So really and truly, it is a marketing problem, but the specific issue is with distribution," Condappa point out.
"We need to figure out how do we sort out that issue of distribution within that sphere of marketing. Also, we need to look at revisiting possibly the AMC model. It's a model which I think at the core has the interest of not just the farmers, but the entire country at heart," he said.
"It is my personal opinion that we need to take a concerted look at that model again because our technology has improved significantly since the '70s and '80s in terms of storage. And also in terms of storage, we need to look at dry storage, as well as cold storage. Those two areas I think require urgent attention if we are to maintain a sustainable agricultural sector going forward," Condappa said.