War triggers foodstuff price hikes

The festering internecine war pitting Southern Cameroon separatists against the Biya regime has triggered a pernicious fixture in the livelihoods of many inhabitants of the affected Northwest and Southwest Regions reflected in foodstuff price hikes.
Food stuff including plantains, cocoyams, tapioca aka garri, tomatoes and melons have witnessed a steady price increase especially, in Kumba, the economic hub of the Southwest Region.
Kumba, Meme Divisional headquarters and junction town linking all other Divisions to Buea, Southwest Regional headquarters has been known for abundance in food supply to other markets.
However, since the escalation of hostilities at the beginning of this year characterized by routine gun battles, incineration of whole villages, destitution of their inhabitants and eventual desertion, business persons say food supply from villages to the urban markets has drastically reduced, thereby making the little that is available very expensive.
Ma Manyi, food stuff vendor at the Kumba main market told The Rambler that “it’s not our making that food is expensive. We know that but, there is nothing we can do. At first we bought plantains at cheaper rates from farmers but today most of those farmers are in the bushes and these plantains remain their major food.”
She explained further that the number of control posts they have to “settle” for both the military and ‘Amba boys’ before reaching Kumba all add to the increase in prices.
Also, one of such commodities which has witnessed a sharp increase in the market is melon commonly known as egusi. As at Saturday, June 9, 2018, when this reporter visited the market, a glass of unpeeled melon sold at FCFA200, a price which consumers say is twice for the same quantity which sold at a FCFA100 or less during the same month in previous years. Traders say this is so because what is being supplied now is old stock for last year and warn that if the fighting persists the prices might even triple because farmers who ought to be working are hiding in the forests.
Traders also attribute the high prices of food to the inaccessible nature of major highways to Kumba because of frequent gun attacks recently. Some say the fact that the railway in Kumba for some time now is not functioning due to security reasons has affected the large quantity of food which came in from the Littoral Region.
Apart from foodstuff, drinks of some targeted brewing companies have had FCFA 100 added to the normal prices. These retailers say there is a high risk involved in buying and stocking the drinks even when the breweries manage to effect some distribution mostly, in urban vicinities.
By NGENDE ESTHER

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