The start of Lilongwe market visits

Editor’s note: This is one of a series of posts by students from Michigan State University in the U.S. and LUANAR University in Malawi who participated in the Frugal Innovations Program of the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation.

By Christie Kang’ombe

August 10th was a very exciting day. Not only did we all converge in class together for the first time, we also had the chance to explore the Lilongwe main markets.  I must say, I was quite blown away by some of the observations my team and other teams made. Being a local, I guess I have been turning a blind eye towards some of the issues.

Both Tsoka and Central market were very lively and busy despite being a weekday. The most obvious observation is that both markets are dominated by male traders. We were greeted by many vendors that approached us directly, inviting us to their stand or bench at Tsoka market.

The variety and beauty of fruits and vegetables at the Tsoka market is undoubtedly inviting.  At the Central market, it was noticeable how the fresh fish sellers were separated from the dried fish sellers. Fish sellers are generally separated from chicken sellers who are also separated from vegetable sellers. All of them were separated by mostly cosmetics sellers. The central market is very diverse.

Another importation observation at the Tsoka market is the operation benches that traders use. They  were mostly wood as compared to the central market which has a concrete structures. The space is inadequate and cannot accommodate all sellers. Vegetable sellers operate from the floor and risk contamination.

This adventure has only begun and I am excited for the next step of this practicum which will involve actively engaging and interviewing traders.

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