Food price hike now worrisome in W. Equaotoria’s markets
July 30, 2011 (YAMBIO) - The continual rise in food prices in Western Equatoria has become a major cause for concern in Yambio town the capital of the agric-producing state always described as South Sudan’s breadbasket.
Escalations in food prices and the subject of food security are global issues are not peculiar to Western Equatoria alone. But 95% per cent of Western Equatoria’s food is produced locally so there is a slight direct correlation in global food crisis.
The price of commodities in Yambio town market is growing higher on daily basis and it has negatively impacted on the poor people who cannot afford to buy for the family to have enough food for consumption in homes.
It is believed that insecurity caused by the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who forced farmers from their fertile villages to run to urban centers in Western Equatoria State, especially along the border of DR Congo and Central Africa Republic where more agricultural produce used to come to supply main towns.
One plastic basin of ground nuts which used to be 7 SDG is now 60 South Sudan pounds, a basin of cassava flour which used to be 5 SDG is now between 25 to 30 South Sudan pounds the same way for imported commodities from Uganda and other countries. Other imported commodities have gone up as well. Plus sugar, corn and wheat prices have also been increasing.
The over-reliance on imported foods in Africa’s has not gone unnoticed by leaders in the region.
In an attempt to address the rising food prices, the deputy governor who doubles as state minister of Commerce, trade and investment Mr. Sapana Abui on Thursday toured Yambio open market to inspect the prices of edible food items such as cooking oil, cassava flour and beef in assessing how sellers determine their prices.
Upon visiting the butcher house in the market, Abui discovered that the weight measurement of meat (beef) is not measured to the correct weighing scale (kilogram) of which a heavy metal is placed under the weighing scale to cheat and denying customers of the exact kilograms.
As the minister was trying to find out the reasons, Bol Peter who heads butchers in Yambio County resorted into serious quarrel with the minister asking that "what brought him to come and inspect the butchers in the market?"
Bol could not hesitate to point finger at the minister in front of many customers who lined up to be cheated by selling half a kilogram of Cow meat instead of really Kg. Even though Bol was advised by some friends in the butcher not to quarrel with the minister, he ignored and despised the minister and rebuked the administration of the state ministry of Commerce, Trade and Investment.
When he reached to the butchery, he (Minister) saw that the weighing scale had an iron put under the part that the meat is put to be weighed, when he asked the head of the butchers started to quarrel with him saying Cows are not planted and he should stop asking many questions and there were some exchange of strong words with the delegation that went with the second powerful man of the state to the market.
Over Yambio FM, state owned local radio station, the commissioner of Yambio county Angelo Bakote announced that "all the butchers not to slaughter their animals from today till they (Butchers) have put their weighing scales in order. And anyone who will go against this will be arrested and tried within competent court of law".
In violent retaliation against the local order, a group of Dinkas gathered themselves on Friday morning to with pangas, clubs and entered Yambio town, scaring the people in the market to demonstrate against the local order passed by the commissioner of Yambio County.
Dinkas are cow merchants from Lakes and Jonglei states who have dominated meat business in Western Equatoria for years.
Though the people of Western Equatoria who are largely farmers don’t keep cattle still they enjoy eating cow meat.
One Yambio resident who asked not be named said that "If butchers are not ready to sell a real kilo according to world standard, then we are ready to continue eating gadia (cassava leaves) and other vegetables. No to cow meat, we are in a Republic of South Sudan".
However, Sapana Abui said the law will take its course with immediate effect citing it as a "violation of law".
On the trip was also the chairperson of chamber of commerce Mbiko Barakat who acknowledged that indeed the market is not well organized and there’s problem with the weighing scale which requires adjustment.
Friday was sad day for those who enjoy meat known locally as “posio,” but only food items like greens assorted local greens, salted fish and dry bush meet are all over restaurants in Yambio town.