8 January 2013

Uganda: Slow January Hurts Food Traders

January is a usually a dreaded month. With the festive season hangover, many staff report to work after the first week of the month, but usually settle in the third.

For food vendors who depend on a daily income, this slow start to the year is usually painful. The year 2013 has not been any different. While food prices have dropped from their high levels during the festive season, traders have failed to attract the number of customers who can make business all the worthwhile. Such foods like matooke, beef, passion fruits and others have registered a price drop due to reduced demand because of the end of the festive season.

For instance, a 100kg sack of passion fruits is down to Shs 200,000 from Shs 300,000 during the festive season. A kilogramme of beef which was going for close to Shs 15,000 in the festive season has now stabilized around the normal price of Shs 9,000 in various markets.

"Despite the price drops, customer turn-up is very frustrating - we hardly make any sales," notes Faizal Lubwama, a trader in Nakasero market.

Foodstuffs like potatoes and cassava, which attract less demand, did not have drastic price increases. A sack of either of them still costs between Shs 60,000 and Shs 90,000. Oranges are still going for the same price of Shs 80,000 a sack, just like it was during the festive season. Despite the price drop and unaltered prices in some foodstuffs, prices for vegetables are shooting up gradually.

A 100kg box of tomatoes, previously going for Shs 130,000 to Shs 150,000, now sells for around Shs 200,000. "We anticipate the prices to go as high as Shs 500,000 for a box of tomatoes," says Bagenda.

"A box of onions is now at Shs 250,000 and we expect it to go to about Shs 500,000 in the months ahead," reveals Nansereko, an onion dealer in Owino market.

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