By: Julia Stein
You may have seen trucks distributing food to lines of Bocas residents near the municipal building and wondered what it is. “Jumbo Feria” and was launched by the National Government of Panama to subsidize the cost of household necessities and food based on provincial needs. This program, launched by President Ricardo Martinelli under the administration of the Institute of Agricultural Marketing, enables farmers and food companies to sell products directly to consumers for lower prices than local supermarkets. Products used daily are selected according to the level of consumer preference in each province.
Trucks filled with proteins, starches, spices, infant formula, milk, soap, toothbrushes and even cereals arrived in Isla Colon and Bastimentos every six months with long lines of Bocas residents flocking for the bargain prices – until now. With the upcoming election approaching, frequency will increase and the Jumbo Feria will now come to Bocas every three weeks. This is great news for residents and even tourists who are welcome to shop at the Feria alongside Bocateranians.
Shelves are stocked nicely displaying brand name items such as Maggi ketchup, Colgate toothbrushes and toothpaste, Protex soaps, Caldo spices, canned tuna, meats and much more. Prices are far less expensive than at the local supermarkets.
“Items such as chicken are over $1.25 cheaper per pound than when I buy them at the Chino (a local slang for the supermarket),” said Maribel Oritz who lives on Isla Colon. Her huge bags in tow weighed her down, but didn’t diminish the smile on her face, happy with the savings.
Two trucks are sent to Isla Colon and products arrive by boat to Bastimentos. After two days it is likely that everything will be sold out.
Arrival dates and timing are announced on Cable Chicho a few days in advance. Once the trucks arrive and the tents are set up, word-of-mouth takes care of the rest of the marketing of this great initiative.
For more information on the government program visit http://www.ima.gob.pa/ima/jumboferia.aspx.