IMF Staff Completes 2019 Article IV Consultation Mission to Mozambique - unabridged
The price of food in Quelimane markets has skyrocketed, and traders blame Cyclone Idai. But the government says prices remain stable and speculation is not cyclone -related.
The rise in food prices on the wholesale market has been a matter of record since March. In Quelimane’s central market, for example, retailers complain there are no clients because of soaring prices.
“Everything has gone up all of a sudden. We do not know what the problem is,” stall-holder Betinho Pedro says. “Onions were 1,500 meticais and now we pay 8,000. Potatoes used to cost 5,000, now it’s 7,500. When we set prices at 70 meticais per kilogram, customers complain – they say it’s robbery. Garlic that we bought for 1,200 meticais has gone up to 2,500. We want to ask the government to look into this – we’re going through bad times.”
There are speculation trends
Talking about the price of staple foods, Vera Godinho, Inspector of Economic Activities in the central province of Zambézia, admits: “Yes, we had some oscillation in the price of onions in April – they rocketed to 100 meticais per kilo. Prices currently range between 80 and 100 meticais per kilo; let’s say prices are stable.”
“Although some traders might be speculating, our people are on the ground controlling the major markets,” she points out.
Egidio Viagem, another Quelimane vendor, admits that he had to raise the price of potatoes. “The price still stands at 6,500 meticais a bag of 50 kilos. If we sell at 70 a kilo, we make nothing, so it will go up to 80. The potatoes comes from Angonia, in the central province of Tete. This is because of the floods – getting potatoes there isn’t easy,” he explains.
Another vendor, Amélia Filipe, complains about the rising prices of basic food products in the capital of Zambézia province.
“We are suffering here,” she tells DW. “Prices are up. A bunch of bananas is 1,000 meticais, potatoes are 7,000, vegetables 35 to 40 meticais. How much am I supposed to charge? How are we going to sell anything to our customers? I don’t understand the situation here, whether it’s the government’s doing… .There was no cyclone here. The cyclone passed through Beira. No-one suffered from the cyclone here.”
Cyclone is not to blame, authorities say
Inspector Godinho also dismisses the hypothesis that the speculation in food prices in Quelimane is the result of Cyclone Idai, as some traders maintain.
“We do not associate speculation with the cyclone because, if that were the case, this would have happened in March, and not now, in mid-May. We do not see this as cyclone-related, because even in the cyclone-affected areas they are already rising. The city worst affected by the cyclone was Beira, while, here, we can get merchandise from other parts of the country,” she says.
But consumer Esmeraldo Custódio fears that food prices will rise even more in coming days, because the June 1, International Children’s Day, festivities are on the way.
“A kilogram was 50, but now it’s 60. Potatoes, onions, lots of things have gone up and it won’t stop. You know how things are as you get closer to any festival,” she laments.Deutsche Welle
Natural resources management in Mozambique