27 February 2013

Gambia: Update On Prices of Basic Food Commodities

Foroyaa has been giving a regular update on the prices of basic food commodities by visiting the markets and shops to provide information to the consumers on the situation of these necessities in terms of cost. This reporter visited the main Serekunda market to enquire about the prices of some of the food commodities from shopkeepers.

Abdoulie Bah, who owns a store called "mangasin", admitted that the prices of basic commodities in the country are on the increase especially the ones that are imported. He explained that there are two types of onions with different prices. He said the prices for a bag of onion is D400 (four hundred dalasi) and (three hundred and fifty dalasi) as there is the local one which is cheaper and the imported one which is of good quality but expensive.

He said the onion business is now on the decline because of the escalating prices which most of the customers cannot afford to pay.

"The customers are complaining that the price for the kilo of onion is expensive, but it is because of the cost of the bag. Sometimes we don't even get what we expect as profit from the bag by selling retail", said Mr. Bah.

He explained that they cannot buy something at three hundred dalasi and then sell at two fifty dalasi.

On the price of a bag of sugar, the shop owner said it is not stable as they sometimes get it at one thousand four hundred dalasi and at other times thousand two hundred and fifty dalasi.

He also complained about the lack of customers unlike before when people always come to buy from them. He attributed this to the changing times and the economic hardships experienced by the people. He said people often blame them for the price increase but insisted that they are not at fault. He said the retail prices are determined by the wholesale prices and which unfortunately they are not in control of.

Another shop owner who sells rice also gave the varying costs of the different types of the food commodity. He said a bag of 'Sadam' is more expensive than the others and it costs around thousand four hundred dalasi. He said the other brand which is the American rice costs nine hundred and fifty dalasi.

According to Cherno Bah, he is a businessman and owns a shop located at Serekunda Market. He said he sells oil. He said they sell different kinds of oil but the one with the best quality is Safar Oil and that's the favourite oil. He said they usually encounter lots of problems in selling the other oils because customers always lay complaints that those types of oil are not good as they have to be heated after being stored for some time.

Furthermore, he said, the blame shouldn't be put on them but the people who import them. He said that the customers should try and understand that they face many problems when buying these goods because the importers put high prices on their goods. The importer fixes prices on their products and after buying the goods, they pay transportation and later on pay taxes which all make things expensive for them. He said the aim of any business is nothing other than to make profit. So he said they cannot spend huge amounts of money just to make losses. He said he buys goods from the owners of Kairaba shopping center located at Bambo; that if the centre reduces or increases prices he will do the same. He said he is appealing to their customers to try and understand them, as they sometimes help customers and sell at discount which is not always favourable to them.

Alfusainey Bah, another vendor said he is a butcher selling beef at Serekunda Market. He said, to tell the truth, meat is very costly. He said he cannot afford to buy a whole cow so what he does is to buy some kilos of meat at Abuko then come and resell it.

He complained that yet still customers are complaining that meat is expensive. He wonders why the customers put the blame on them because they are just retailers. "The complaints should be laid at the doorsteps of those selling the cows to us", he opined. He said before he used to buy a full cow and sell it but he once made a very great loss which led to his bankruptcy. So he said now he cannot afford a full cow but buys some kilos of meat. He also appeals to the government to make more effort and tell those dealers of live animals to reduce prices so that the customers won't lay any complaints against them. "Customers should also understand that cow sellers do not slaughter the cows in their presence. We will meet the cows already slaughtered in which case we do not even know the weight of the cows; that by right they should see and know the weight of the cow before buying it. "So we buy it at a high cost, we are given a receipt which shows that the cow has been examined and there was no sign of disease found in it before we take the meat away", Said Alfusainey Bah.

Mr. Bah said any cow with disease is not taken for sale, that it's only the healthy ones that are approved. He finally reiterated that meat is expensive but the blame should be put on the people selling the cows not them, the butchers.

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