Wednesday September 26 2012

Market Prices: Beetroot is gaining in popularity for health reasons

Market Prices: Beetroot is gaining in popularity for health reasons

The beetroot vegetable is eaten when boiled, or as a salad. One can also make juice out of it. Photo by Faiswal Kasirye.  

By Sharon M. Omurungi

Two years ago, the beetroot market was not one to talk about. Ms Zainab Nanyonga, a trader at Nakawa Market, says people didn’t know the vegetable.

However, there has been a turn-around of fortunes ever since people learnt about a health benefit to the vegetable including helping in the digestion and blood flow.

She explains, “The herbalists are now encouraging people to take it for health reasons. I have some customers who come from as far as Jinja to buy beetroot. That is how popular it is.”

Nanyonga says some of her customers book the vegetable before she sets out to stock the product.

The media buzz factor
She says the market for the product has changed due to the media sensitisation. “Print media wrote about it and the radio people never stopped talking about it.”

Currently, she buys 40kgs which she sells in a week yet two years ago, she would buy 10kgs which would take the same period or more.

One kilogramme of beetroot costs Shs4,000 at wholesale while at retail, it costs between Shs5,000 and Shs6,000 depending on the market that you go to. Although the vegetable is found in a number of markets, there are few traders dealing in it.

Ms Theresa Namale at Nakasero Market explains, “Some traders are still afraid to deal in it because they live in fear of making losses.”

The beetroot vegetable is eaten when boiled, or as a salad whereas some people go ahead to make juice out of it. According to Wikipedia, beetroot leaves, which have a texture and taste like spinach, are eaten too but have to be boiled or steamed.

Namale says currently, the vegetable is off the market because it is not in season. Its peak season is always October and November. However, the trader says with the recent weather changes, it (season) may change any time.

When the vegetable is in plenty, Namale says one can get a kilogramme at Shs800, wholesale, and sell it at Shs1,200. “But if it gets very scarce, a kilogramme can be bought at Shs7,500 to Shs9,000,” she says.

There are three different types of beetroot including; the globe or ball (which is round and red), the long and then the white and golden beetroot.

Nanyonga says the long beetroot is rarely grown because its market is not good as people don’t like it because it is not as sweet as the others. Namale and Nanyonga argue that people in Uganda only know of the globe, the reddish root. Kabale is still the biggest source of the vegetable on the market.

Although beetroot grows well in areas where it’s relatively cold and sunny, the traders say it doesn’t survive for long in very cold and wet places.