Food price trends show mixed bag for consumers as festive season fades

Food price trends show mixed bag for consumers as festive season fades
Food price trends show mixed bag for consumers as festive season fades

Africa-Press – Rwanda. With the festive season fast fading from memory, consumers in the City of Kigali are faced with varying trends of prices for essential foodstuff. A mini-survey by The New Times in different major grocery markets across the city this week showed that while some food prices had increased compared to a fortnight ago, some had reduced while others remained unchanged.

Some of the commodities that have seen price increases include vegetables and fruits, rice, sugar, and bananas (ibitoke), while prices for Irish potatoes, maize and cassava flour (kawunga), cooking oil, spaghetti, cassava, and sweet potatoes generally remained unchanged. Prices for meat (beef, goat and chicken) as well as peas and beans dropped.

Speaking to The New Times, Anastase Munyemana, a vegetable vendor at Kwa-Mutangana market in Nyabugogo, said they had generally witnessed an increase in food prices in the days that followed the holiday season.

For instance, he said, a kilo of onions had increased to Rwf700, up from Rwf500 around the New Year’s Day, while green bell pepper increased from Rwf1000 to Rwf1500. A single courgette costs about Rwf14000 at retail price, up from about Rwf500 two weeks ago, he said.

Annet Mukamasabo, who owns a grocery store outside Marato market at the Nyabugogo business hub, partly blamed the sharp price in vegetable prices to scarcity created by huge demand during the festive season.

“There isn’t a lot coming in from the farmers at the moment,” she said. Others have mainly blamed harsh weather conditions that affected crops in different parts of the country.

Ange Uwimana, a fruit vendor at Niboye market in Kicukiro, said that demand has fallen over the last few days, in part due to the fact that children have returned to school leaving behind smaller households, yet wholesale prices have increased due to supply shortages.

Dan Mugisha, a vendor at the Kimironko market, agreed, citing the example of the wholesale price for 50kg of cucumber that rose from Rwf20000 two weeks ago to Rwf45000 this week. While a kilo of tomatoes was at Rwf700 two weeks ago, it now goes for around Rwf1000, with watermelon costing Rwf500 more depending on the size.

Onions cost Rwf700 a kilogramme up from Rwf450 with a kilo of mixed flour (porridge) going for Rwf1000 from Rwf800 a fortnight ago. A kilogramme of nuts is at Rwf2200 up from Rwf1800.

Other commodities that saw a rise in prices include sugar, of which a kilo costs Rwf1100 up from Rwf1000; while rice (‘Umutanzania’ brand) stands at Rwf1200 a kilo compared to Rwf1000 two weeks ago.

One kilo of ginger goes for Rwf1500 compared to Rwf1000 at the turn of the year, garlic is Rwf2500 a kilo up from Rwf2000, while the price of Ibitoke rose from Rwf200 to Rwf250 a kilogramme.

According to farmers, unreliable weather is mainly to blame for the drop in supplies witnessed in recent weeks, which has resulted in increased prices of a basket of food commodities.

“For fruits and vegetables to grow well you need moderate rain, which was not the case recently,” said Peace Uwamahoro, a farmer in Musanze. “The harvest was generally poor.” However, prices for some commodities have fallen over the last two weeks.

For instance, a kilo of beef costs Rwf3200 down from Rwf3500, with that of chicken meat going for Rwf2500 down from Rwf3000. Goat meat is at Rwf4500 a kilo from Rwf4800 two weeks ago. Peas prices have also dropped, returning to the pre-festive season rate of Rwf1800 a kilo, down from Rwf2200.

Meanwhile, prices of a range of foodstuff such as Irish potatoes (Rwf300-Rwf350 a kilo), sweet potatoes (Rwf300 a kilo), cooking oil (Rwf2200-Rwf3000 a kilo), cassava flour (Rwf600-Rwf900), and spaghetti (Rwf700) remain unchanged.

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