Lira food crisis worsens even with drop in fuel prices

Traders in a market. Food prices have continued to rise in Lira City despite a drop in fuel prices. PHOTO/ FILE

Food prices have continued to rise in Lira City despite a drop in fuel prices.
A survey conducted by this publication on Monday revealed that black beans are currently sold at between Shs4,000 and Shs5,000 per kilo up from Shs2,500 last year. A kilogramme of yellow beans goes for Shs5,000 up from Shs3,000 and the red big beans, commonly known as kawula, are sold at Shs5,000 from Shs3,500 a kilo.
The price of millet has increased to Shs2,000 per kilogramme up from Shs1,700 a kilo while the price of a kilogramme of groundnuts and simsim goes for between Shs6,000 and Shs7,000 up from Shs5,000.

In an interview with this reporter on Wednesday, Mr Patrick Ogwal, the chairperson of the Lira Produce Dealers Cooperative Association, blamed the increase in food prices on the high fuel prices.
“We no longer reap big from our businesses, unlike those days when the prices of fuel were low. We are not getting much profit but instead losing the profit in transportation costs which are very high,” Mr Ogwal said.
He added that the dry spell that hit the region early this year worsened the situation.
 “Many farmers in northern Uganda did not receive good harvest following the prolonged drought. We don’t have any food stock and what we are currently consuming now comes from far places such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania,” Mr Ogwal said.

However, the price of fuel has dropped slightly with Shell Petrol Station in Lira selling petrol at Shs6,020 down from Shs6,800.
Mr Benedicto Byomuhangi, the station’s quality marshal, said the number of customers he receives has reduced.
“When fuel prices were a bit lower, I had a lot of customers and I enjoyed the market because other local companies were a bit expensive. But as of now, I am selling half of what I used to sell previously because of the small number of customers,” he said.
He added: “… the price of fuel is reducing and we are hoping that by November this year, we shall be selling petrol at around Shs5,500 because the economy is stabilising.”
Ms Agnes Akello, a restaurant owner, said the increase in food prices has affected her business because the expensive menu is chasing away customers.
“In the past, I used to have many customers but they have reduced. A customer will come asking for food of Shs2,000 and below but when you tell him/her the food prices have increased, they leave,” she said.

“I used to sell a plate of beans at Shs1,000 but now it has increased to Shs2,000. Both fried and pasted meat used to go for Shs3,000 but now I am selling at Shs4,000,” she added.
Mr Deo Kibrige, the chairperson of Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Lango Sub-region, said the high fuel prices have a direct impact on people’s purchasing power because it affects the prices of products in the market.
“Every product that is put on the market goes through transportation. Whoever transports these goods would always include the price of transportation.  It means the price has to go up,” he  said.
Mr Kibirige said when the prices of products go up, it affects the consumers because the higher the price, the lower purchasing power as well as low sales volume for the sellers.

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