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‘Blue food’ prices on the rise

BY JANELLE DE SOUZA Monday, June 30 2008

click on pic to zoom in
CLOWNING AROUND: It was all smiles when these two clowns walked across St Mary's Grounds in Port-of-Spain yesterday morning at the annual Home Constru...
CLOWNING AROUND: It was all smiles when these two clowns walked across St Mary's Grounds in Port-of-Spain yesterday morning at the annual Home Constru...

Earlier this year, the Consumer and Legal Affairs Minister Peter Taylor called on the population to eat “blue food” in order to alleviate the strain of the cost of flour and rice.

However, according to several market vendors, the cost of ground provisions such as dasheen, eddoes, cassava and sweet potatoes - “blue food” - has risen. Sweet potatoes that were once $4 per pound are now being sold at $7. Dasheen and eddoes that were $4 and $6 per pound are now $7 and $10 respectively.

One vendor from the Port-of-Spain market who wished to be known only as “Beauty and the Beast” said yesterday the market is “a rise and fall.”

He gave an example using chives: “Yesterday (Saturday) in the market a bunch of 24 chives sold for $10. Today (Sunday), because not many vendors came out and it was in demand, a bunch sold for $40.”

One main aspect that is sure to affect market prices is the rain. Goods that were planted during the dry season could be damaged by too much rain, vendors said. Floods can also destroy crops leading to a shortage while there is still a demand causing a rise in prices. The market vendor said since school is closing soon, the school feeding programme will be suspended until the second week of schools’ re-opening and, therefore, there will be more goods in the market so the prices may drop.

Supermarket shoppers, too, have their problems to deal with as basic food items such as rice, flour and milk continue to rise.

“Everyday is a different price on the same item,” said Nicole Duke Murray, a grocery shopper, wife and mother of two, yesterday. “At $70 for a sack of flour, my family and I are just making out by the grace of God. I still try to use less rice and more flour because, even though it’s expensive, it goes a longer way... Just now I’ll have to eat my clothes because clothes cheaper than food.”

Susan Durity told Newsday that because she works 14-hour days and 20 hours on weekends, she has little time to cook and has to depend on store-bought bread to feed her three teenagers. “For breakfast and dinner it’s either bread or crix,” she said. “One loaf in the morning, and one at night – that’s $20 a day on bread alone. It’s seriously hard.”

Another shopper, Wendy Farmer, said that, because of the prices, she too has cut down on her rice intake. Instead, she and her two children eat more pasta. Also instead of buying bread, she bakes.

“The store bread has no substance to it anymore. It works out better to buy the flour and make your own bread,” she said. “We’re coping.”

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