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A woman pushes her way through the bread line at the Konyo Konyo market in Juba/AFP

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Sluggish economy affects Ramadhan table in Sudan

A woman pushes her way through the bread line at the Konyo Konyo market in Juba/AFP

Sudan, Jul 27 – The Ramadan fast-breaking table in Sudan this year reflects the country’s economic situation, which is under unprecedented rise in prices of most of commodities forcing most of Sudanese families to dispense with many popular dishes during Ramadhan.

The Sudanese people have been suffering from the price hike since the beginning of Ramadhan, which limited their purchasing ability and caused a clear change in the people’s usual food pattern.

Juices have been reduced to almost only one type while most meat and fruits have disappeared from the table with the main reliance on the dish of Asida (a popular meal made of Durra flour).”The Ramadan tables are affected this year by the rise in the prices of vegetables, meat and other commodities like sugar, cooking oil, milk and others,” Ismail Ahmed, a Sudanese citizen, told Xinhua. “We have become unable to meet Ramadan requirements and most of the families reduced the number of dishes on Ramadan table,” he added.

Samira Al-Fadil, a housewife, said that “compared to last year, there is a serious rise in the prices. In the past we used to prepare the Ramadhan table with various delicious dishes of grill food, cakes and deserts, this year we depend on only one or two types of dishes, namely Asida and beans.”She accused the merchants of being greedy during the month of Ramadan, saying that some merchants become greedy and exploit this holy month to increase the prices of Ramadan requirements due to weakness of government supervision. “The concerned authorities must closely monitor the official prices of the commodities and impose tough punishment on the merchants who increase the prices (illegally). The authorities should also work to prevent speculation and storage of goods to protect the poor and weak consumers,” she said.

However, Amar Hamid, a butcher at the central market, south of Khartoum, defended the merchants, saying terming claims true that the merchants increase the prices untrue. “For instance, I sell the meat with prices that are set according to the prices of lamb and beef. Six months ago, we use to sell 1 kg of beef for about 20 Sudanese pounds (about 4 U.S. dollars) while the price of a 50 kg calve was about 1,000 pounds. However, presently the prices of the similar calve amounted to 2,000 pounds, that’s

why the price of 1 kg of beef jumped to 35 and 40 pounds,” he explained.Hamid said his sale reduced almost half this year, saying “in the past the amounts I sell doubled during Ramadan, but this year the amounts I sell dropped almost half.” Official statistics from Sudan’s central bureau of statistics earlier indicated that the country’s inflation rate is 37 percent in June this year.

The Sudanese economy has been suffering from the rise of inflation rate and weakness of the Sudanese pound against other currencies, as the price of 1 U.S. dollar against

Sudanese pounds is five pounds, six pounds in the black market, compared to 2.7 pounds last year. Sudan has lost 36 percent of its oil revenues after the separation of South Sudan. The prices rise has prompted protests in June that started at Sudanese universities and then moved to other areas in the capital Khartoum, after the government

adopted economic reform, including an increase in the taxes and removal of fuel subsidies.  Sudan and South Sudan have been engaged in marathon negotiations in the Ethiopia capital of Addis Ababa on many outstanding issues, including the sharing of the revenues of the oil which is produced in South Sudan but needs Sudan’s oil infrastructures to be exported.

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