Tajikistan experiencing steep price hikes on food

11 months ago Web Desk 0

Meat, Butter Considered ‘Luxuries’ As Tajiks Face Steep Price Hikes notes that it’s forcing many families to forego important nutritious food and only purchase basic staples, an alarming trend in a country where an estimated one-third of the population faces malnutrition.


According to the World Food Program, 47 percent of the people in Tajikistan live on less than US$1.33 a day and an estimated 30 percent of the population are malnourished, the article says.


The coronavirus pandemic has sent food prices soaring in many countries, as it forced border closures, restricted transport networks, and disrupted import and export systems.


Millions of households in the remittances-dependent country reportedly saw their main source of income vanish as many migrant workers were unable to travel to Russia and Kazakhstan this year.


According to the Ministry of Labor, Migration and Employment of the Population, the number of Tajik migrants who went abroad for work in 2020 decreased by 57 percent compared to last year.


Even those who managed to go have had their earnings dwindle due to pandemic restrictions in the host countries.


In April, the government ordered farmers to grow more vegetables and grains instead of inedible crops, and to try to get three rounds of harvests to help ensure food security in the country.


Officials also called on the population to use their land plots and backyards as well as greenhouses to grow vegetables. Households were urged to harvest and store a two-year food supply.


Dushanbe also introduced a ban on the export of some agricultural products, including grains, potatoes, legumes, eggs, and meat.


But with 93 percent of its lands covered by mountains, it’s a tall order for Tajikistan to become self-reliant in producing food for its 9.3 million inhabitants, according to the article.


A study by the World Food Program also found that some 97 percent of Tajikistan’s arable land is subject to soil degradation.


In mid-October, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reported that prices for vegetable oil and sugar went up by as much as 30 percent in many markets in Dushanbe, where a smaller uptick was recorded in the cost of other staples, such as eggs, meat, and rice.


The price of sugar went up from US$0.6 to US$1, while the cost of vegetable oil rose from US$1.16 to US$1.55 per liter.


Such price increases reportedly make a big difference to ordinary households in Tajikistan, where the average monthly salary is about U$160 per month and the average pension for retirees is US$33. Those figures include a recent across-the-board increase by the state.


Customers complain that prices constantly fluctuate — “different prices every week” — and that they often go up without notice or explanation. Vegetable and fruit prices often go down during the prime part of the harvest season.


Figures provided by the Agency for Statistics under the President of Tajikistan indicate that the average cost of rice, flour, all types of meat, cooking oil, eggs, sugar, and tea in Dushanbe were higher in October compared to the previous month.


At the same time, the cost of milk, wheat, and beans remained stable, while the price of potatoes and cabbage went down during the same period.


According to the Agency for Statistics, in the week starting October 19 the average price of beef in Dushanbe was US$5 per kilogram, black tea US$4.6, rice US$1.3, and flour US$0.47 per kilogram.


A liter of milk cost US$0.45 and a pack of 10 eggs cost about US$1.


Source: Asia Plus