By Bulawayo Correspondent
CYCLONE Idai’s negative effects have turned economic, with severe shortage of fruits and vegetables in Bulawayo, it has emerged.
The hostile weather phenomenon ripped through Manicaland’s south eastern districts of Chimanimani and Chipinge leaving a trail of death and destruction as well as overturning livelihoods overnight.
According to vendors in Bulawayo, Chimanimani and Chipinge are the major suppliers of fruits and vegetables to the country’s second largest city. The infrastructural destruction by the cyclone has left many a supplier and vendor in a lurch.
Fruits and vegetables such as bananas, onions, avocados and pine apples have run out in Bulawayo and surrounding towns.
“I buy bananas from Chimanimani and resell to vendors and supermarkets in Bulawayo, Victoria Falls and Gweru.
“The cyclone damaged most roads and bridges in the area, we are no longer able to access farmers who supply us with the produce. Most of us have already run out of bananas and other fruits,” said Patience Muganga, a banana dealer from Chimanimani.
Muganga said most of the dealers were now contemplating sourcing bananas from neighbouring South Africa.
“Some of us are sitting on orders which we cannot fulfill because of the cyclone. We are now exploring ways of how we can import the fruits from South Africa because we can no longer source the bananas locally,” she said.
A crate of bananas which was going for RTGS$10 before the cyclone is now being sold for as much as RTGS$50.
Sam Chivave, is a vegetable vendor and one of many whose business has been affected the deadliest storm to hit the country in living memory.
“The cyclone has affected my onion business. I buy onions from Chimanimani and resell them in Bulawayo.
“Right now, I have a truck load of onions stuck in Chimanimani because the roads have been destroyed. I am sure by now the onions have gone bad. A lot of my colleagues are also in the same predicament,” said Chivave in an interview with New Zimbabwe.Com.
Vast tracts of banana plantations and other fruits were destroyed by the tropical cyclone which lashed the area. The cyclone also affected Mozambique and Malawi. Communication and accessibility to the farmers have also been affected by the cyclone.
Nearly 200 people were killed, 300 are missing while infrastructural damage is estimated to run into millions. Over 40 000 people will need food aid while thousands more were displaced, their homes washed away.