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When flowers fail to pay off  

The old man looked frail. Despite the intense heat that struck the outskirts of Ruwa, desperation keeps him fetching more water from the nearby well.

He struggles to finish watering the 10 square metre flower bed.

Hard work has redesigned his face as patterns of veins are seen all over the once beautiful face.

His efforts does not automatically translate to a desired output as the old man makes less than $40 per month which he then has to split between himself and his business partner.

This is the sad story of a 51-old who identified himself as Boas Lameck — one of the many Zimbabweans who are desperately battling with the odds to make a living.

Lameck who resides in the fringes of Ruwa, along the Harare –Mutare highway has partnered with Alfred Kalunyenga, to keep the flower bed alive.

Their hope to raise sufficient money for survival has not yet been realised as flower sales are still stubby.

These two are a true testimony to the 2003 UNDP finding which stipulates that 63% of urban households were living below the Total Consumption Poverty line.

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Narrating how he ended up constructing a flower bed on the near side of the Harare-Mutare highway, Lameck said, “I was compelled to start this business by the need to feed my family.”

Lameck, openly divulged that the business has not yet started paying despite their low prices.

“A pocket of flowers goes for as little as $1 and so far our monthly average sales range between $25 and $30,” he said.

Mathematically calculated each one of the two member team makes between $12 and $15.

The 51 year old takes care of his 11 member family from the paltry amount earned through the flower business, which is his only source of income.

He attributed the low sales of the flowers to low market demand.

“The market for our products is still limited.  We are looking for someone who can inject capital in the business so that we can modify this place to attract customers,” said Lameck.

The horticulture sector is one of the neglected sectors in the country and if capacitated it will generate more income.

At its peak, horticulture was the country’s second largest foreign currency earner after tobacco, contributing an average of 4% to the gross domestic product (GDP).

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Despite recent claims that Zimbabwe’s horticulture industry is showing signs of recovery many people who engage in this business have a different story to tell.

Tendai, Mukando who also sell flowers in the Harare’s CBD echoed Lameck’s sentiments.

“The flower business is no longer paying as it used to, largely because we no longer have tourists who stop by to buy flowers,” she said.

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Journalist based in Harare

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