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The price of many food products in Maputo markets has fallen due to weak demand and the heat wave in the Mozambican capital, according to traders interviewed by news agency Lusa.
After food price peaks over the festive season, the first days of 2016 are being marked by losses for traders at the main Maputo markets caused by weak demand and the lack of adequate storage.
“Our products are rotting here,” laments Zimpeto market’s Mónica Paulo, indicating more than 30 bags of onions that arrived in Maputo on Saturday from South Africa and remain unsold.
Like most Zimpeto traders, Paulo purchases her products in South Africa, and the main difficulty she faces, besides the excessive bureaucracy at customs, is inadequate storage at the market.
“Zimpeto is one of the main markets in Maputo, but it does not have facilities for preserving produce,” she says, pointing out that even the improvised canvas sheeting protecting produce from the rain and sun is the result of traders’ own initiative.
Normally, a bag of onions bought for 45 rands (2.6 euros) in South Africa sells in Maputo for 190 meticais (3.6 euros), but now the prices are around 150 (2.9 euros) and 160 meticais ( 3.10 euros) respectively.
Tomato prices have also fallen in the first days of the new year, with dozens of traders who buy in South African facing losses as parked trucks stand unloaded on the roads outside the market.
“As you see, everything is rotting. What else can we do?” asks Osvaldo Mundlovo, unable to speak further for frustration.
Demand during the festive season drove the price of a box of tomatoes up to 900 meticais (17.4 euros) from its usual 420 (8.1 euro) to 500 meticais (9.7 euros) price range, causing customers to call on the authorities to oversee commercial activity, according Lino Abdula, who has been selling tomatoes and potatoes at Zimpeto market for ten years.
“This is a free market, my brother. It seems that people don’t realize it,” the merchant told Lusa as he sorted through boxes of produce already perishing for samples he could possibly sell on his stall.
“With this heat, we are losing our produce,” he laments. “It’s terrible for business.”
At the informal Xiquelene market on the other side of the city, Esmeralda Fabião, a tomato seller for more than ten years, recounts the same problem, albeit on a smaller scale, and complains about the recent fluctuation in prices.
“This could only happen in Mozambique, unfortunately,” she says. “In South Africa, this doesn’t happen, festive season or not.”
Fabião had to lower the price of five tomatoes from 30 meticais (0:58 euros) to 20 meticais (0.38 euros) due to weak demand and for fear of seeing her produce go off in the heat.
“Business has slowed down, but the people most affected are the wholesalers,” she explains, while promoting her produce to a seemingly disinterested crowd and predicting “dark days ahead” due the economic situation in the country.Source: Lusa