Douala: Prices of Basic Commodities Soar

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Although traders have varied reasons, the increase on some products contravene homologated rates.

Foodstuff prices have risen steadily but drastically, raising fears of an artificial scarcity although availability as of now is not a problem. Every week since the beginning of October the prices of cooking oils, rice, kitchen salt and sardines have gradually climbed from their normal with an addition of about FCFA 50 per week, imposing an untold burden on average households who now go to bed uncertain of tomorrow.

For example, a litre of palm oil has risen from FCFA 600 in September to FCFA 800 and FCFA 900 (depending on the quality) with an addition of about FCFA 50 per week. A litre of some brands of cooking oil has moved from FCFA 1,100 in the market to FCFA 1,200 and then to FCFA 1,400 while selling at FCFA 1,500 in the quarters.

A carton of canned sardine has moved from FCFA 16,000 to FCFA 19,500. Three sardines was formerly retailed at FCFA 1,000 but with the increase in prices, they are now sold at FCFA 500. Eighteen kg of kitchen salt (a bag) which used to be FCFA 2,300, now sells at FCFA 3,500. The cost of a medium-sized table bird has soared from FCFA 3,500 to FCFA 5,500, the bigger one from FCFA 5,000 to FCFA 8,000. 

However, some of the prices contravene the homologated rates between the Minister of Trade and business people. Both parties have set the price of rice that contain 25 per cent broken rice at FCFA 330/kg and FCFA 375/kg for rice with just 5 per cent broken rice. Following the homologated prices, 50kg rice (25 per cent broken rice) is supposed to sell at FCFA 16,500, that of 5 percent at FCFA 18,800 and FCFA 20,500 for that with 5 percent premium. However, traders have failed to respect the official prices. With this is the arduous task retailers have to convince customers, sometimes with strong arguments but yet lacking concrete reasons for the hikes.