Lusaka Tomato Vendor
The young lady depicted in the Sweto wholesale market in Lusaka, Zambia is attempting to purchase two boxes of tomatoes for a total of approximately 50 Kg. She expects to pay ZK 45,000 (US$10.00)/box for total investment of ZK of 90,000 (US$20.00). She will then have to transport them approximately 1 km to the main market where she rented a small stall. She hopes to sell them for ZK 55,000/box. This represents a sizable 22% markup but provides her a gross profit of only ZK 20,000 US$ 4.44), which when she deducts her expenses of stall rental and porter cost will give net days profit of ZK 15,000 (US$ 3.30). If she has more than two dependents to support she will fall below the international poverty standard of US$ 1.00 per day.
In evaluating private traders it is often not only necessary to look at the percent markup but also consider the market volume and total income. By condemning private traders it is possible to be condemning people who are as deeply impoverished as the smallholder producers they are supposed to be exploiting. Another example would be a Banana Trader in Uganda working from a bicycle.
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