Inhabitants of Buea, the town of legendary hospitality, in the South West Region of Cameroon, have nit-picked the recent price hikes of basic commodities, especially foodstuffs in the different markets.
Foodstuffs like plantain, cocoyams, garri, Irish potatoes, palm oil, dry and fresh fish among others are witnessing a tremendous increase, due to the on-going socio-political Crisis rocking the two English part of the country.
Garri, one of the staple foods in Cameroon produced from cassava, have witnessed a price hike in the market. A cup of garri that initially sold at FCFA 75 now sells at FCFA 100 and at times FCFA 125. A 50 kilogram bag of garri that sold at FCFA 16,500 now sells at FCFA 24,500. Retailers say there is no garri in the market because Muyuka Sub-division that was reputed for producing garri in large quantity has not only been deserted, but that some of the villages within the Sub-division have been razed by security operatives.
Traders who often request for 10 bags of garri are today served only three bags.
The hike is blamed on the scarcity of the foodstuff as traders find it difficult to transport these foodstuffs from the villages where they are produced.
Worst still, the burning down of some villages have further compounded the situation. Most farmers have abandoned their farms and relocated to other Regions for fear of the unknown.
This explains why foodstuffs such as plantain and garri which are largely produced in villages like Munyenge, Ekona Mbenge, Yoke, Owe that make up Muyuka Sub-division are now scarce in the market. Madam Eposi, a plantain seller in Buea said that the demand for plantain is high, but the supply is not enough to meet the ever increasing demand.
According to her, even when the plantain is available, transporting it to the market becomes a major concern. She averred that access to the aforementioned villages, which are major production basins, has today become a nightmare as security concerns have now added to the poor nature of the roads.
“Transportation has become really expensive as such, when we buy and successfully transport the plantain or garri to town, the prices need to be increased in other for us to make some profit and keep taking the risk to feed our people.”
Just like plantain and garri, smoked and fresh fish too have witnessed price increase. It is a similar situation with chicken and other table birds.
A chicken which hitherto sold at FCFA 3000 now sells at FCFA 5000 OR 6000. Owners of restaurants have decried this exponential increase.
“I used to buy a chicken for FCFA 2,500 or 3000 and sell for FCFA 7000 in my restaurant. But recently, prices have increased a great deal. A chicken now sells at FCFA 5000 or FCFA 6000, Mrs Achu Emilia,” a restaurant owner in Buea asserted.
The increase, she explained, is due to the fact many poultry farmers, who were residing in villages, have abandoned their poultry farms and flee into the bushes due to the on-going Crisis in the Region.
According to her, those who are supposed to be securing persons and their property are the first to kill and eat the chickens, goats and other domestic animals in the deserted villages. Most of them even term such domestic animals as “stray animals” to justify their actions.
However, in the heat of the surging prices, the local consumers are the ones who bear the financial brunt of such action. Speaking to The National Times, a civil servant said despite the high prices of foodstuff in the market, she is forced to buy because she cannot abandon her job for farming and that her children most eat to stay alive. “In such a circumstance do I really have choice”?