Scores of desperate villagers in Masvingo Province are flooding the Harare-Beitbridge Road selling wild fruits to travellers in a bid to earn a living due to a devastating drought that is ravaging the region.
Villagers, who spoke to Studio 7 on Tuesday, said they are forced to pick wild fruits in the bush and sell to their clients travelling in buses and private vehicles so that they can earn a living.
With the current drought gripping the province, most villagers said they no longer have food reserves. They have resorted to selling wild fruits that include mazhanje, matamba and matohwe, among others.
This time of the year, the villagers say are selling mazhanje, which are fetching reasonable prices. Most of them use the money to buy food and other basic necessities.
Tawanda Mandiva of Gutu District said he wakes up early in the morning to sell his fruits. He says he makes between $10 and $20 per day.
Mandiva said, “We are making a living out of this. I can get $10 a day to feed my family. We have to do that because we have nothing to survive on.”
Edward Rwizi of Darikai Village in Zimuto communal lands said the highway has become a source of income and the wild fruits are helping them to get money to send children to school.
“The fruits like matamba, mazhanje and matohwe are helping us a lot. The highway has become a cash cow for us. We can now look after our families and send children to schools.”
Lucia Gandu, a widow who lives at Maringire Business Centre in Chivi, said gathering wild fruits and selling them along the highway has become a blessing as she is managing to cater for the needs of her children.
Gandu said, “I am not employed and I wake up in the morning to look for mazhanje so that I sell them and get money on the road. I am now able to buy food and take care of my children,” she said.
Some of these fruits used to be some kind of luxury when Zimbabwe’s economy was vibrant soon after independence. Local people say they have now been reduced to street vendors due to the current harsh economic hardships worsened by drought.