Mzungu in the markets

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 Vinjeru Nyirenda

The first day of meeting the MSU students was interesting. I enjoyed the little exercise we conducted on what we have in common. We got to know each other and interacted well as colleagues.

The second day presentations were made for a clear understanding of the Practicum as well as expectations during and after market visits. The visits to the markets were interesting because the MSU students were fascinated by the open market, especially the colorful display and packaging.

I was surprised to hear of such a variation in our markets. They were also captivated by the different types of fresh food that was sold at an affordable price. For me it was a daily sight, however it was interesting for them to point out.

The vendors were interested to see a group of ‘mzungus’ (white guys) moving around the markets. They wanted to know the purpose of the visits.

The Central and Tsoka markets within the city lacked proper sanitation and infrastructure. The supermarkets were cleaner and organized. The central market was the most crowded with small pathways and no storage units. However it had a variety of food commodities as compared to Tsoka market. The third day had us going to smaller residential markets. I saw a variation between the two markets. One is well organized and the other less so.

I personally look forward to engaging with the vendors to find out their problems apart from the ones we identified from observations.

 

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