Anne Mireille Nzouankeu | July 28, 2013
(Originally published on January 14, 2013)
Pascaline Ndongo bundles some brown-skinned yams into a blue plastic bag. The farmer is serving a customer in the middle of a large open area. All around her, farmers from different villages are unloading their fresh goods, looking for a good spot to sell their produce.
Mrs. Ndongo travelled about 50 kilometres from Batchenga to sell her yams in this seasonal market in Yaoundé. Usually, Mrs. Ndongo sells her crops to traders who come to the village. The traders then resell them in the city. But for the first time, she is participating in this special Christmas market in Yaoundé. She explains, “I want to see if I can do good business by selling directly to the consumer.”
This kind of seasonal market fosters direct contact between farmers and their customers during events such as civil and religious holidays. The farmer pays nothing, just sets up a stall in the designated place.
The first customers usually arrive before farmers have finished setting up. Mary Virginia Meba’a is a customer. She says, “I come here to buy cheaper goods and in large quantities.”
Other customers have different concerns. Aline Mvondo has an eye for quality. She says: “I’m not just looking for cheaper food but food that is very fresh, because at the regular market, you find food that is not always fresh.”
These seasonal markets are organized by a government body which was established to make essential goods available to consumers at reduced prices.
As the day progresses, more and more customers arrive. By two in the afternoon, Mrs. Ndongo has exhausted her supply of yams. She does not want to say how much money she has made, but her broad smile says she is satisfied. She reports, “It was a good experience. I brought just a small amount of yams so that I was not left with any unsold.” She now regrets this decision. But she will come back when the opportunity arises. And next time she will bring more goods to sell.
The farmers do not know when and where the next market will be. When a seasonal market is organized, people are informed of the date, place and type of market by radio.
But Mrs. Ndongo will surely be back, along with other farmers. With some of the profits she earned at this market, Mrs. Ndongo was able to buy clothes and toys to give as Christmas gifts to her five children.