Egypt’s sweet potato sellers struggle to make a profit

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Cairo's sweet potato sellers say they're struggling to keep their businesses profitable.
The traders appear on the Egyptian capital's streets with their carts during the winter months, but the vegetables are cheap so their income is limited.

A man in Cairo buys a hot sweet potato.
Carts selling the snacks are found on street corners and being pushed along the roads of the city.
But despite this trade being a long-standing tradition, it is now on the decline.
The low price of the tasty vegetable makes it difficult for people to earn enough money from this job.
Karima Refaey, a sweet potato seller, says she works for more than 12 hours a day and earns little.
"I wake early in the morning to fetch a huge pack of raw sweet potatoes. I wash them and then I start working at 8am. I return back home at around 9 to 10 pm to sit with my daughters and husband. Of course my profit is in God's hands. But life is too harsh. Standing besides this cart means that I won't make any money except from this business. I make from 10 to 20 Egyptian pounds daily from this job (1.4 to 2.8 USD)."
Although Refaey says she is struggling financially, her job has still earned enough money to pay for her daughter's education.
"This cart raised us up and I am honoured that I have been educated and have graduated from the profits of this simple potato cart, " says her daughter, Rania Hussein.
Another vendor, Ashour Hassan sells sweet potatoes on the bustling streets of downtown Cairo.
There are two types of sweet potato available in Egypt.
The popular orange sweet potato, and the rarer white-hearted sweet potato.
Customers mainly seek out the hot treat during the colder winter months.
In summer, vendors turn their business to grilling corn cobs instead.
But Hassan also says he doesn't make enough profit from his sales, and his is struggling to support his six children.
"I start my day with this cart. I go to the sweet potato trader to fetch some sweet potatoes. Then I start roaming the streets to sell them and searching for my profit. I didn't find any job except for this. The profit varies from 20 to 30 to 40 Egyptian Pounds daily (2.8 to 4.2 to 5.6 USD), " he says.
Local pharmacist Hany Mahmoud says the starchy vegetable is a good, nutritious snack.
"A sweet potato is very useful for the heart. It's also beneficial to those who have stomach and colon problems. It's also useful to children and toddlers and for pregnant women," he says.
"It contains a high percentage of potassium that is essential in building the body," he adds.
Cairo's sweet potato vendors are likely to be hoping more of the city's vendors might heed this advice.

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