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Traders narrate business ordeal over deadly Covid-19

Dar es Salaam, Mabibo market traders yesterday narrated their business ordeal during the Covid-19

pandemic that forced some of them to consider abandoning business. Speaking separately to this reporter, they said during that period it was difficult to trade perishable goods as they ended up rotting due to shortage of customers and that the amount of goods transported to the city by farmers declined hugely. Ms Aisha Mushi, who trades fruits at the market, said there were times she disposed about three buckets of rotten mangoes per day, accounting for a huge loss as compared to times before the outbreak of the pandemic. “This was a hurting and trying moment. I thought about abandoning the business, but I had to continue because I had nothing else to generate income for the family,” said the 58-year old woman. She said before the pandemic 1,000 mangoes were sold in three days, but after the pandemic, business plunged, causing disposal of many perishable products.

“As a result, it was difficult for me to repay a loan secured to consolidate capital for my business,” she lamented, hailing President  John Magufuli’s  decision to require Tanzanians to live and get used to the disease by scaling up precaution measures.

Mr Winfred Richard (39), who sells bananas at the market, said he abandoned the merchandise in the hands of farmers after discovering that there was a significant decline in customers. “I paid in advance for un harvested bananas. However, 30 bunches couldn’t be sold in two days after the pandemic unlike before the outbreak when 320 bunches were traded in two days only,” he said. According to him, he had to abandon the business for a while, something that made his life tough.

Mr Enock Kimwayeya (47), a trader of round potatoes and onions said customers significantly declined

The year when the outbreak of Covid-19 in Tanzania caused colossal losses for some businesses 2020

Between April and June as Covid-19 intensified and the government paid more emphasis on health protective measures particularly social distancing “Customers are supposed to inspect the consignment and get satisfied with the quality of goods in order for us to do business. These procedures were prevented by the outbreak making it difficult to do business,” he said. He said the price of round potatoes declined to Sh 25,000 per one sack from Sh 50,000 and Sh 65,000 with retailers selling at Sh 85,000 per sack.

However, after the pandemic retailers sold the product between Sh 45,000 and Sh 50,000 respectively. Mr Kimwayeya, who doubles as the market chairman, said during that period they made it mandatory for everybody entering the market to abide by disease preventive measures especially hand-washing at the entry and exit points. Mabibo, market traders narrated their Covid-19 experience as studies were underway across Africa to establish how Covid-19 pandemic negatively affected systems of food accessibility in Africa. Some of the studies are undertaken by the Western Cape University in South Africa, Ardhi University (ARU) in Tanzania and the Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) under the sponsorship of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).