Seven tomatoes are sold for 500 FRS and tomato shelves are not as red as always. Taking a walk across on July 19 2021, at Marché New Deido in the Douala 1 district in Cameroon, vendors say the fruit has become scarce but business must continue. « We have very few customers now and the few who dare to come around, argue so much that we end up selling at a low price”, said a vendor. Two months ago, a basket of tomato ranged from 2500 to 5000 FRS but now, having access to a basket worth 7500 is considered a blessing to tomato vendors.
Tomatoes are sold in hips of two to seven; two being 100FRS and seven being 500FRS. Depending on the sizes.
“Business these days is challenging. I got a basket for 7500frs and just few tomatoes were in good shape”,
said another tomato vendor.
Irrespective of the hike in prices and drop in sales, vendors also have to incur a possible loss if they get a basket filled with broken tomatoes.
Vendors have hard times giving us ample explanation as to why the constant fluctuation in tomato prices but all are unanimous, exports to neighboring countries is leaving several Cameroon markets empty. According to Gisèle, a tomato vendor at Marché New Deido, “Farmers prefer selling to foreigners who buy in bulk at a much higher price and give us very little goods”, she said.
Access to the vegetable is now restricted to some who opt for groundnut soup, okra or even Mbongo chobi. In a case where the stew is a prerequisite, women rather disburse more to get enough tomatoes or simply do a mixed tomato sauce.