Liberia: Suspected Scarcity of Major Cookery Ingredient Causes Price Hike

Monrovia — Imported onions are being sold at higher prices because there is a shortage on the Liberian market, according to marketers.

On Thursday, the smallest ball of imported onion was sold at LD$50 while bigger size sold at most LD$100.00. The prices have surged from LD$10 and LD$25

Despite the looming concern of onions scarcity on the market, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, (MOCI) on Monday dispelled information that there no shortage of onion on the Liberian market,

They then claim that situation is created by "hoarding and hiking of onion price on the market".

"We want to inform the general public and consumers that there is an adequate supply of onion on the Liberian market as it is being speculated," the ministry said in a statement.

"Those engaged in price hiking of onions must stop, as the price of onions is US$6.00 or its equivalent in Liberian dollars."

The ministry has called on businesses involved in hoarding and hiking the price of onion to desist from such unscrupulous behavior as the act is a violation of the Competition law of Liberia, which provides penalty ranging from US$1.00 to US100,000.00 as a fine, the Ministry said.

Many retailers of onions in Monrovia are finding it difficult to purchase onions on the market, while some people have turned to the use of onion powder instead.

Sarah Dahn, onion retailer at Waterside market downtown Monrovia, says onion is one of the most important items she sells that brings her profit.

"Look on my table I had to replace it with garlic and I went I bought enough onion powder and that is the same powder I'm cooking," she explains.

Dahn said a bag of onion was sold for LD$400 last year and later upped at LD$750 this year but now it is sold US$20.

Buying at US$20 means there will be no profit after selling a bag, she said.

Alpha Bah, a storekeeper, told a FrontPage Africa reporter that he has no knowledge why there is onion shortage, but recommends that the Commerce Ministry takes control of the situation.

"We don't know why the shortage but all we say is government should take control because onion is important."

Bah said there is no price hiking but the scarcity of onion should be a priority to the government.

Alice Toe said she has decided to use onion leaves instead of onion buds.

"I am not hurting my head to buy onion bud for the past weeks I have using onion leaves and onion powder."

In the ministry's mandate, "We regulate all prices of goods on the Liberian market for the benefit of both the consumers and the sellers. A consignment of about thirty containers of onion is expected to arrive in the country on Friday, August 3, 2018.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry remains committed to ensuring that the basic commodities are available and affordable within the commerce of Liberia.

The release said, the Ministry has further instructed the inspectorate division to keep surveillance on the sale of onions in the various markets around the country to ensure that those involved stop or be fined.

Meanwhile, the Ministry is appealing to the public to report anybody who is found hiking the price of onions or hoarding the product and other basic commodities on the market.

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