Aug 13, 2022 News
…cabbage, carilla, other produce reach $500 per lb
By Zena Henry
Kaieteur News – High food prices continue to pressure the pockets of consumers, and even now, shoppers and vendors say the issue is reaching breaking point as prices reach record high. Visits to the Bourda market over the past few days have proven there are significant increases in produce prices.
Vendors who purchase goods in bulk for retail have highlighted consistent rainfall in some farming villages, in Berbice for example, as one of the main reasons for the increased prices. Speaking to random vendors, they told the Kaieteur News that with the high food prices, they too are finding it difficult to make a satisfactory surplus.
One vendor showed Kaieteur News what she described as a quarter sack of hot peppers which she said cost her $28,000. At a resale price of $1200 per pound, the vendor said, “All that money fuh this lil bit a ting and ya barely making anything pon it.”
Another vendor told this newspaper that she is buying carilla at $260 per pound and is selling it back at $300, making a mere $40 profit on the item. The vendor showed the newspaper some passion fruits which she said was purchased at $7,500 for 100. With several of the fruit still on hand and rotting, the vendor said she is already counting her losses; and this is the case with several other unsold goods. She explained that given the high cost of the greens, once they are not sold within a specific time, losses must be considered.
Outside of those items, the newspaper observed exorbitant prices for other staple produce. For example, three and even two heads of pak choi are being sold for $500 when the same amount previously cost $200. Vendors are requesting $460 and $500 per pound of cabbage; previously sold at $160 and $200 per pound, while one squash which could have been purchased for $100, $160 and $200 for one, is now sold at $300 each. Two pounds to two and a half pounds of okra is being sold at $500 when it once cost $80 and $100 per pound. One could have purchased a whole pumpkin for $200 and $300 depending on the size; the same item now costs $460 and $500 per slice.
Speaking to random shoppers, several persons expressed difficulty in meeting the increased prices. One woman told the newspaper that in her household, with three kids and her husband, a lot more money is required to meet the home’s food needs. She said that purchasing produce and fruits at the market alone would cost the family some $15,000. She said “When simple seasonings (green onions, celery, sweet pepper etc.) for the week gon cost ya about $2000, you can only imagine what is really happening.”
Another shopper said that she cannot change the high cost of food so she simply buys within her means. She said, “I cyan afford to by two and three balanjay for $500 or dem lil piece pumpkin fuh $400 and $500, suh I gah buy what ma money could buy.” The woman continued that foods like ‘bora’ have become so expensive that her household would eat greens at least three times a week. When that is not available, she said she would “switch it up” with peas and other stews.
Supermarket goods are not offering any relief either. The prices of those commodities have increased as well with basic items such as oil, flour, milk and others soaring to the point that even the government stepped in to ensure basic items are easily accessed by the public. They have also allocated billions of dollars which they say have been dedicated to help cushion the high cost of food.
Opposition Parliamentarians had argued for a motion to be heard in the National Assembly months ago relating to the high cost of living but this was rejected. The group expressed disappointment and criticized the decision to not have the concerns associated with the high prices discussed with an aim of it being addressed. The House Speaker had declared that the motion was in contravention of Standing Order 25 (1) (a) (iii) and (b) which speak to the item’s eventual charge on the Consolidated Fund.
Labour Unions have also decried the crushing effects of high living cost and demanded from the government, an increase in particularly private sector minimum wage which was lifted from $44,200 to $60,000. Given the high costs now, workers’ representatives continue to argue that even the new increase is inadequate.
In a press conference yesterday, the Alliance for Change (AFC) also called on the government to meet with workers’ representatives to engage in collective bargaining to ensure salary increases that takes into consideration inflationary impacts. The party said it expects inflation to surpass 8 percent by the end of the year. It also called on the government to ensure that cash grants and other relief packages meet all citizens; that the handing out of assistance be done in a structured way with a record of the communities benefitting and even persons accessing relief in the form of state funds.
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