Inspired by our discussions at Activista The Gambia we took upon ourselves the task of going to the market to make a small survey on the effects of the food crisis to think about means of prevention or reduction.
We can see that the markets in the areas that are hit by the food crisis are almost empty, but the markets in the city still have vegetables. This does not mean that people can buy the vegetables though.
What we did was to ask questions to the market vendors about the past and the present situation and what recommendations they had. Read their answers here:
What types of vegetables are being sold now?
The vendors among other things sell green pepper, green beans, fresh tomatoes, cabbage, and egg plant. According to the vendors, most of the mentioned vegetables are from The Gambia, except the carrots which are bought from Senegal, because farmers or gardeners don’t grow them much in the country.
How do the customers buy vegetables these days?
The vendors told us that any buyer who comes to the market, want to buy vegetables. Depending on what is available in the seasons, some of the buyers find it difficult to buy the vegetables, as the prices can be very high. These days some of the buyers will try to buy on credit, or some might go home without buying.How long does it take to sell a basket of vegetables?
The vendors tell us that it is so difficult to sell vegetables nowadays, even to sell a basket of vegetables because the vendors are many. “Everybody is selling vegetables.” Even back in time, when there were not many restaurants and hotels to sell to, it was easier to sell, but now there there are so many of vendors that it is difficult, even though there are more buyers and more restaurants to sell to.
To get a picture of how the market dynamics have changed we asked the same questions about the market in the past:
What types of vegetables were sold in the past 15 and 20 years?
There were common vegetables available before such as hot pepper, cabbage, garden egg, bitter tomato, sweet potatoes, okra and cauliflower.
According to the vendors they told me that back in the days many people don’t know what a cucumber was. It was only sold to the foreign guests or tourist and to the Mauritians living in our country.
How long did it take to sell a basket of vegetables?
According to the vendors in the past markets when you bought a basket of vegetables you would normally sell it within four days because there were not many sellers. The prices were very different, back then a bag of rice only cost D.40, whereas now it costs more than D900.00
Was it difficult to buy vegetables?
It was very easy for the vendors to buy vegetables, as it was not sold at a high price and available from Senegal. By then the vegetables were bought from Senegal costing 5000f, which back then was D30, whereas the exchange rate has changed, and not 5000f is D300.
How often did the health inspectors visit the market?
Then the health inspectors did not visit the market very frequently.
Was it profitable to sell vegetables in the past?
The vendors told us that it was not profitable in the past to sell vegetables, because people were not buying the vegetables every day. Most of the Gambians didn’t know the different types of vegetables, and there were not many vendors.