Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Pinch of Escalating Commodity Prices on Women

A follow-up to “Women Lament Daily Commodities Price Hike” in our local markets, the latest survey conducted by Musoolula Bantabaa reveals that the increase in the prices of daily commodities is affecting the women.  

Musoolula Bantabaa (women’s forum) who owes to decrying women, the most affected in situation of price hike of daily commodities, went round to talk to some women as well as men at this worrying moment to make their voices heard.
The current situation in our local markets is really hampering food security and poses a big threat in our pursuit to meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) goal 1, which is to reduce hunger by half by 2015.
Binta Nyang, a fish vendor at Latrikuinda market expressed her desperation over the slow pace of business. She said most of the time her fish got spoiled, because customers cannot afford to buy.  
“I am incurring huge losses as a result of the high cost of fish,” she decried. “Men at the sea tend to make it so difficult for us. They also said fuel is expensive and as they too are bread winners of their families need to survive from their work.”
As one of the most nutritious food, fish has become very pricey. Bonga which is less classy in our local markets is what many underprivileged families cook on daily basis. Ladyfish for instance, the smallest one is not less than D75. There are others that cost D150 for one.
Less privileged women, like Mariama Ceesay whom I found arguing with a fish vendor at the market, are likely to suffer the consequence more than any other.
She said only few women can afford to buy big white fish like barracuda and cat fish. Majority of them buy bonga.
“If one bonga fish is costing D5 what else can I buy from the fish money which is only D50,” she complained. “I am living with my husband and 5 children. If I buy four fish the change left will not suffice to buy other ingredients that should go with the soup or stew.”
 According to her, every individual should eat a balance diet at the end of the day, but due to prices of basic commodities in the markets they eat whatever they can afford.
Sohna Jambang who uses the little income she gets from her business to pay her children’s school fees said her customers are avoiding her. She stressed that they are not the cause of the increase in the prices of commodities
“Our customers often blame us, thinking that we intentionally increase prices. We, too feel the pain as a woman, but the amount we spend to purchase goods is very expensive.”
Things are becoming worse by day. Everything is expensive, especially oil and onion, which are the main ingredients we use in our cooking.”
Sugar which 95% of our households use in preparing breakfast and evening meals has become unaffordable. A bag of sugar now costs D1,380, compared to D750 in 2009. A cup of sugar is D8.00.
Vegetable cooking oil and palm oil also continued to rise rapidly.
 “If drastic and strategic measures are not put in place”, said Mumut Kagbo, “the poor and the vulnerable like me will suffer the most”.
Mumut lamented that she is forced to groundnut paste soup because the price of oil is unacceptably increasing. “I cook soup four times a week as a cup of oil now cost D12.00 and palm oil D14.00,” she said.

Lamin Njie, a vendor selling oil, onions, Irish potato among others, said he gives women (jendenjaye) goods to sell in the market on credit. However, he said they stop coming because they complained that the profit they realise is very little, in some case, nothing at all.
As a bred winner,  who provides daily meals, I understand how these women suffer in pleasing us (husband) by putting delicious food on the table”.
A woman who was sitting next to him said she used to do the same thing, but had to stop it. She said she is now selling vegetables that she harvested in her garden.
Fatou lamented that she used to buy 20litre of palm oil at the price of D1,400 and sells a cup for D13.00.
“I had to stop it because after selling it for almost a month, I got only D100 profit. It was hard to meet family needs with such an amount as a mother”, she told Women’s Bantabaa
20 litres of vegetable cooking oil has increased from D600 to D950. Onion pushed from D250 to D300. A bag of Irish potato which used to cost D300 has increased to D550. A bag of rice has also increased variably, depending on the quality. For example, Sadam rice is costing D1,250.
“I used to clash with my wife whenever she asked me to add some money to the fish money I gave her”, said Saloum Bangura. “But I now know what she has been enduring when she comes to the market. Men with the spending power should reconsider the money they give to their wives to reduce the burden on them”.
The meat vendors raised concern as business continues slow down. A kilogram of steak is costing D100, while steak with bone costs D80.
For Sheikh Njie, a Senegalese vendor, the price of meat has compelled his customers to stop buying meat from him. He said he used to sell all the meat before midday when the kilogram was at pegged D60.
“But nowadays, I spend the whole day waiting for customers,” he said. “Sometimes we keep calling on them to come and buy, but without much success.”
A breakfast seller at the same market, selling sandwich and steak told the Women’s Bantabaa that she has now adjusted bread and steak from D25 to D35 due to the increase in price of meat.
Neneh Njie added that she had stop selling steak. She is now selling bread and beans, scotch eggs and rice and beans.
According to her, most of her customers are persuading her to start selling steak but she is afraid it might ruin her business.
Fatou Mendy, a vegetable vendor said she has to struggle from Lamin village to Latrikunda market to sell bitter tomato, cassava leaves and big pepper to support her six children who she said are all young.
“I always buy the food stuff we need for launch for the family only after selling the goods I sell as the money my husband gives is not always enough,” she disclosed.
“I had to supplement it to be able to buy enough to eat. Sometimes if the business does not go well, I sell my goods at very cheap prices inorder to be able to provide food on the table for my family.”

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