This week trade at the Mbare Musika markets has been steady with prices of tomatoes, carrots and green beans dipping slightly on the back of increased supply. Some people distrust the informal markets because they feel that the produce is measured in an arbitrary manner which might prejudice an unwary buyer. Of course there are some unscrupulous vendors who are out to fleece the public. Fortunately these do not operate from designated selling points like Mbare Musika because it is quite easy for a client to come back for redress.
Clients are advised to avoid buying from illegal traders including those who stand at the roadside along major highways. They have the tendency of offering what appears to be a good deal then play some tricks and the person only discovers when they get home that they got less than half of the produce that was on display.
In this edition of the column we will aim to demystify the concept of measurements used by traders at the markets so that next time you go shopping for some of the freshest vegetables and fruit on offer, you know exactly what to expect:
Sasseka — This is a name of a wheat flour sack produced in Mozambique. Traders at the markets are now making use of the sack to measure butternuts, cucumbers. Although it is capable of holding only 50kg of wheat flour, the Sasseka, when it has butternuts weighs 60kg and 62kg for cucumbers. It is mostly preferred by traders because it is big and strong as compared to other sacks found locally.
Sandak — This is a plastic crate used for bananas, cauliflower, and broccoli. It is mainly used by farmers when selling their produce to wholesale market traders who then later repack the commodities from the sandak for resale. A sandak of both peaches and bananas weighs 18kg
Box — This is a wooden crate which is approximately four times smaller than the sandak. It is popularly used by both farmers and traders in almost every produce traded at the farmers’ market for measuring tomatoes, okra, green beans, green pepper, chillies, peas and carrots. A box of tomatoes, okra, green beans, green pepper, chillies, peas and carrots weighs approximately 7 kg, 2kg, 4kg, 4kg, 5kg, 4,85kg, 3,55kg and 9kg respectively.
Bucket (20 litre) — This is the standard bucket used at home for various purposes like fetching water among other purposes. It is used mainly by traders for measuring sugarbeans, groundnuts, cowpeas, roundnuts, masawu, mawuyu (baobab fruit)and mufushwa (dried vegetables). A 20 litre bucket of shelled kasawaya groundnuts weighs 15kg, sugarbeans 16,9kg and that of masawu weighs 7,8kg.