HomeLocal NewsVillagers resort to barter trade

Villagers resort to barter trade


HURUNGWE — The dollarisation of the economy brought about relief to ordinary urbanites, but to most rural communities, it has brought anguish as the foreign currency has proved elusive to many.

Many rural communities have resorted to barter trade because they cannot afford the prices of commodities in monetary value.

“We have resorted to use animals and crops as a form of payment between ourselves because we cannot find money,” said a Hurungwe resident.

The situation in most rural communities has deteriorated to the extent that some schools are even asking for levies in the form of livestock.

“Yes, if the parents fail to raise the required amount in dollars we are encouraging them to bring goats or hens as a form of payment. We know most of the people are so poor and spend months without accessing a dollar,” said Petros Kaveyo, a headmaster in the area.

NewsDay toured some of the shops in the area and witnessed people buying sugar, kapenta fish and other groceries through barter trade.

An operator of a grinding mill in the area said they demand a gallon of maize to grind a bucketful of the grain.

“As a businessman, I should be sensitive to the people’s plight, this is the only way we can help people because our country is not producing any currency,” said Abel Howa, who has a grinding mill at Tengwe Gate shops.

Informal traders bring basic commodities to exchange for maize grain and livestock, among other things.
A goat is being exchanged for two litres of cooking oil and a 2kg packet of brown sugar. A 100kg bag of maize is being exchanged for four litres of cooking oil and five bars of laundry soap.

Some of the business operators bring cheap clothes from neighbouring Zambia in exchange for game meat, gold and soyabeans.

Media reports recently quoted Chief Magonde as saying that his area had been dealing with acute shortages of foreign currency ever since the government replaced the Zimbabwean dollar.

“We are in a difficult situation and we have no choice but to give in to the demands of the traders. Here in the village it is difficult to get US dollars or South African rands.

“This problem has forced villagers to lose their livestock and farm produce to the informal traders who have invaded our area. Those without farm produce are using gold as a medium of exchange,” said Chief Magonde.

Informal traders from as far as Harare have also flocked to the area. Some of the traders said they were engaging in barter trade with the villagers to fend for their families.

“Two bars of soap or a 2kg packet of sugar is exchanged for a 20-litre bucket of maize,” said Petina Gure, an informal trader.

“We do not resell the commodities obtained out of this trade; they are mainly for feeding our families. Most of us have discovered that we cannot afford to buy a 20kg bag of mealie from the shops every two weeks.

“We felt it was much better for us to exchange basic items for maize, which we stock in our houses and take to the grinding mill when the need arises,” said Gure.

The director of Social Services in the ministry of Labour and Social Services, Sydney Mhishi, admitted that rural communities were failing to get the much-needed money, forcing humanitarian organisations to give handouts to vulnerable members of the community.

He singled out the $20 being given to senior citizens by
HelpAge in Zvishavane.

“We are talking of a group of people who have no other means of income.

“They wait eagerly for the money they are given and they are now able to buy livestock and other basic commodities from the money,” said Mhishi.

Government announced early this year that it was going to give at least 300 000 economically disadvantaged families monthly grants of between $10 and $25.

The grants are supposed to help beneficiaries to meet food and healthcare requirements.

Mhishi said the government had already mobilised $45 million to cover the next three years.

He said the families were identified under a pilot project which ran from November 10 last year in the poorest districts of the country.

He said 60% of the households were headed by children and the elderly.

“There are over one million orphans in Zimbabwe and only 527 000 have registered access to external support.

“Traditional family and community mechanisms to support orphans have been under financial strain, resulting in more children facing difficulties in accessing healthcare, education and other basic amenities,” he said.

Once a household benefits from the programme, it will automatically access other social services support programmes in the country.

These include free education under the Basic Education Assistance Module, access to health services, farming inputs and food distribution schemes.

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