Drought hits street vendors as food prices rise

Street vendor Rebecca Shirinzah (sitting) says if the drought situation continues she will close her business and look for a job. Picture: Boksburg Advertiser

Windmill Park residents have expressed shock at the escalating food prices.

As food prices in South Africa are set to increase substantially on account of the severe drought plaguing the country, street vendors have already been hit hard.

Street vendors, particularly those who sell fresh produce in Boksburg, say the drought’s ripple effects have threatened their livelihoods, Boksburg Advertiser reported.

Windmill Park resident Felicia Taino, who has been selling vegetables and fruit for 22 years, has expressed shock at the escalating food prices.

“All these years I’ve been running my business smoothly, but now the increase in prices is killing my business, because I don’t make a profit anymore,” she said.

She added the prices of all the vegetables she gets from suppliers have drastically increased. She was used to paying about R60 for a 10kg bag of tomatoes. She now has to pay R220 for the same product.

“I used to buy potatoes for R30 and now they cost me R65. I have no option but to push up my prices, but in the end my profit dwindles,” she said.

Another vendor, Rebecca Shirinzah, who has been selling fruit and vegetables for 19 years, said if vegetable prices don’t drop she will have to look for a job, because she won’t survive by selling fresh produce.

“I used to buy 10kg bags of onions for R48, now I buy them for R58; bananas in a box were R100, now they cost R150. Imagine how my customers, who would often buy from me, must suffer,” she said.

Earlier this month Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana said the country was set to import up to 6 million tonnes of maize, which could possibly increase the cost of basic foodstuffs by as much as 25%.

Fortunate Shabangu, who sells produce next to Shirinzah’s stall, said they have no choice but to survive on the street, selling fruit and vegetables.

“Many of us have no education, so there is nothing to fall back on; we can only hope for better days ahead,” she added.

Taino said that on top of the increment in food prices, she also had to pay transportation costs. However, despite the harsh times, Taino said she would not close down her business.

“I will do what I have always done, which is to survive; I trust the situation will one day return to normal,” she said.

– Caxton News Service

 



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