- Cactuses come into fruit and ripen between November and May
- The resultant prickly pear fruits provide a source of income for the unemployed
- Some make up to R500 per day
While cactuses are often seen as invasive alien plants, they provide a major source of income for the unemployed when they come into fruit in the Eastern Cape.
The resultant prickly pear fruits ripen between November and May every year. Local residents can make up to R500 a day harvesting and selling them, Briefly.co.za learned.
One of the sellers, Monica Marais from Motherwell in Port Elizabeth, told GroundUp that she takes a 10km bus ride every day to Uitenhage Road where the cactuses grow.
She said she has to make time for harvesting, rubbing off the fruits' prickly surface, and the actual selling.
Monica sells a 20-litre bucket of pears for R75 or a five-litre bucket for R15. She makes up to R400 a day.
Another local resident, Zolile Jacobs, said he turned to selling the fruits after being retrenched three years ago. On busy days, he makes around R300.
However, he said business can be affected negatively when it rains because motorists do not stop. In addition, municipal by-laws do not allow them to construct shelters along the roads.
A third seller, who wished to remain anonymous, said:
I have colleagues who own bakkies and their businesses are running fast and smooth. They are making more money than us [by selling in] areas frequented by rich people and tourists.
For his part, Ardonis Mukape, said he started five years ago when his grandmother's eyesight deteriorated:
I was very hesitant and shy at first. This all changed after the money started to flow … On a good day I can go home with R500.
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