Drought hits fruit and vegetable vendors: “It’s getting harder and harder every day”


The ongoing drought hitting various provinces in SA has left farmers and fresh produce vendors struggling to make ends meet. Farmers are increasing prices to keep their businesses running and customers are the ones paying the price. Vendors selling in the Farmers’ market in Victoria Street told KWAZI DLAMINI how the drought has impacted their businesses.

Bonokwakhe NcobelaBonokwakhe Ncobela, 26, Harding
The drought hit us very hard, I am not even making profit anymore, I do it for the customers because of the relationship I have built with them. The suppliers are unsympathetic; they raise the prices and we cannot even negotiate with them. I started this business in 2008 because I struggled to get a job, but it looks like I will be job hunting soon and the municipality is not helping in any way except arresting us. It is the first time I’m experiencing this ever since I started, it is really bad now. We used to buy a bag of potatoes for R60 but now it is R90.

Siyakholwa SheziSiyakholwa Shezi 29, Mzinyathi
When I started selling here in 2005 things had been running smoothly, but now we don’t get supply easily because things are expensive. We would be happy if the municipality supported us with supplies at cheaper costs because we are really struggling, and we also contribute to the economy as well. We pay for the space that we are using. If the municipality does not help us, how are we going to pay that money to rent for our stands? If we don’t make money, the municipality will also not make money. I have kids to take to school but I can’t afford [to] now and the farmers are ripping us off so we have to buy limited stock.

Nozibusiso NxumaloNozibusiso Nxumalo 42, Umlazi
I have been selling here for thirteen years and have always went home with meat everyday but now I cannot even go home with bread. The drought got us on our knees; we have been praying for it to end but our prayers are not being answered. I am not educated, this was the only way I could feed my family and it has been making a big difference in my family. In business, you always face difficulties every now and then but not something like this. It’s hard to find work at my age; I don’t know what to do if things continue like this. I have a child who is at varsity now because of this business but I don’t know how I am going to pay for her fees this year.

Thokozani Lukhosi - Kwazi's Vox'sThokozani Lukhozi, 40, Harding
I come from a poor family and I could not finish school because no one was working at home to provide for us and I had to step up and fill that void. I started in 2002 while things were cheap and it was a simple business but now it’s very difficult. Things are expensive, even the suppliers give us rotten things for cheap prices because we can’t afford the expensive ones. I cannot even send money back home; things have been difficult because of this drought. Farmers are saying they can’t do anything, things are bad at farms there is no rain. I recently took a one-week break from selling because I did not have money to buy stock to sell and I think it is going to get to a point where I have to stop selling. I am not making money anymore.

Clive Chetty  - Kwazi's Vox'sClive Chetty, 24, Newlands West
This is a family business that has been going on for 40 years and it saddens me to see it on the brink of closing down. Prices have increased three times than the normal price because of this drought. It has never happened before for things to be this expensive. Summer harvests are supposed to be cheaper in summer but now it’s not like that, in fact they are expensive now and I don’t even want to think of how much they will cost in winter. The municipality is not doing anything for us and I don’t think there is something they can do because the only cause of this is lack of rain and only God is responsible for that.

C Puran - Kwazi's Vox'sMrs C. Puran, 71, Sea Cow Lake
I came here when I was 19 years old and I have been selling for 50 years. Poverty made me start this business, my husband was not working and I had to come to the streets to feed my children. This drought has made things very difficult for me, I even had to change suppliers for cheaper stock. As you can see now I am washing these onions; they come cheaper but very dirty I have to clean them before selling them. Things are bad even at home, I am sick. Sometimes I cannot even afford to go to the doctor because I have no money. All the 50 years I have been here I have never seen anything like this. It’s getting harder and harder every day.

Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity
Featured image via Chris Eason on Flickr


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