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Drought drives up vegetable prices in Zimbabwe

The drought ravaging most parts of Matabeleland has pushed prices of vegetables and fruits up in the region’s biggest market, Bulawayo. The unfortunate development has seen some traders buy the produce from as far as Harare and neighbouring South Africa for resale. Matabeleland, a perennially dry region in terms of rainfall patterns, has been hardest hit by the current drought.

The situation has been worsened by the country’s failure to receive adequate rainfall during the 2018/19 agricultural season due to El Niño.

A crate of tomatoes is selling at prices of between $200 and $250 while the price in Harare ranges between $100 and $150.

Vegetables and fresh foods traders who spoke to at Bulawayo’s main vegetable market along Forth street said before the drought situation, they used to source for fruits and vegetables from surrounding peri-urban farming areas but now either import from South Africa or buy from other areas.

“We are incurring huge transport costs in bringing vegetables and fruits from South Africa every week,” said Lewis Nkomo, a vegetable dealer who said they were failing to receive adequate supplies from local farmers. “The few farmers who are supplying are charging us exorbitant prices.”

Nkomo said he brings about 30 tonnes of fresh vegetables from South Africa every week. He specialises in butternuts, acorn and cornflower, among other vegetables. The businessman also sells fresh fruit such as apples and peaches.

Former Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president, Donald Khumalo said the high cost of borrowing finance, and water shortages was one of the reasons there has been reduced production of vegetables in the region.

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