The only two things potatoes and tomatoes have in common is that they both have controversial pronunciation schemes that everyone cannot seem to agree on. That and the fact that they are in short supply at Zimbabwe’s leading vegetable market at Mbare Musika. There has been a slump in the supply both of potatoes and tomatoes at Mbare for a couple of weeks now which has resulted in a spike in prices.

This is in contrast to the glut that we experienced in both tomatoes and potatoes during the months of October and November last year. Even during the early weeks of December, there was an ample supply of tomatoes and potatoes. The excess supply could be observed in the depressed prices:

  • A 15kg pocket of large potatoes was now going for as little as US$7 as compared to the current US$12-U$15
  • A 5 litre tin of potatoes was going for US$1 compared to the astounding US$3
  • For totamatoes a dish was going for a mere US$1 while a medium wooden box was going for US$2.50
  • Now it’s that small dish that’s going for US$2.50 that’s if you can even find it. That box is now going for as much as US$6.
  • The hoard of potatoes lorries that used to throng Mbare Musika has now reduced to a trickle and the assistant hawkers are making a killing with prices contanstly on the move depending on current supply.
  • Premium red tomatoes are now very hard to find with people having to do with lower grade yellow/orange produce that hardly looks like tomatoes and even this is selling at a premium. The tomatoes we saw lack the usual glow you associate with tomatoes

Expect trickle down effects

You can expect trickle-down effects from this. Tomatoes will also be selling for steep prices in your local supermarket or corner market that’s if you are even able to find them. If you are like me and enjoy local chips from your local Take Away you can expect to pay more. In fact, we have seen a spike even in USD prices of chips and who can blame the local proprietors given how LP gas and electricity prices also went up at the beginning of the month.

So are they potahtohs or is it potaytoes? Tomahtohs or tomaytoes? Which do you think it is?