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DOHA: The new retail and wholesale market for fresh vegetables and fruits inaugurated late last month is posing a fierce challenge to the central market, where traders are increasingly complaining of low customer turnout.
Though the new market, located near Umm Salal Sports Club in the north of Doha, is open only three days a week, it has eroded more than half the business of the central market.
Prices here are at least 56 percent lower than those prevailing at major retail outlets, according to calculations made by this newspaper based on a price chart issued yesterday by Al Mazrouah (the new market) for seven vegetables — tomatoes, cucumber, cauliflower, pepper, zucchini, beans and eggplant.
While tomatoes were priced in major outlets at QR3 a kilo, they were available for QR1.75 at the new market. Similarly, cucumber was sold for QR2.5 a kilo here while its price in shopping centres was QR5.
The cheapest was zucchini, on offer for sale here at QR2 a kilo as against its usual price of QR6 elsewhere. Cauliflower, too, was available at a throwaway price —QR1 a kilo (compared to QR3.5 at shopping malls and hypermarkets).
Beans were available for half the normal retail rate at QR4 per kilo. Similar was the situation with pepper (QR3 a kilo). Eggplant was the cheapest at 70 dirhams a kilo.
As reported earlier, Al Mazrouah is supported by 22 local farms that produce fresh vegetables and bring their produce directly to the market. The market is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The new market is run and managed by state-backed Hassad Food, and the only condition it must fulfil is that it must sell produce at prices lower than those fixed by the government at the central market on a daily basis.
Such has been the demand for fresh vegetables and fruits at the new market, which breaks the monopoly of the middlemen-dominated central market, that on its inaugural day only five tons of produce was available for sale.
Yesterday, when the market reopened for the week, the tonnage had multiplied a dozen times to 60. “We hope to bring more produce on the market,” a trader said.
Fresh fruits are also being sold in the market although they are all imported, because Qatar does not produce fruits. The prices of fruits are also much lower than those in the central market.