Soaring prices hit rural poor

HARARE - Prices of basic commodities in rural areas have shot up beyond the reach of many.

The National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) latest price monitoring report reveals that prices of basic commodities such as washing soap and mealie meal are selling for far much higher in poverty-stricken rural areas than in towns and cities.

According to the report, a 10kg bag of mealie meal costs $6.17 in Harare and $6.50 in Chivi and $6.14 in Mutare.

A box of matches costs 86 cents in Chivi and 60 cents in Harare.

A 2kg packet of brown sugar costs $2.10 in Harare and $2.21 in Chivi. 

A 100ml  petroleum jelly costs $1.15 cents in Chivi while it costs 99 cents in Harare.

Other products that are more expensive in rural areas include tea leaves, cooking oil and washing soap.

The NIPC noted that transport costs might be a factor in the price variation.

“Locally manufactured products are cheaper in Harare as compared to other towns, suggesting that transport costs have a strong bearing in the final prices being charged to consumers,” NIPC said.

Christopher Mugaga, an economist, attributed the variation of basic commodities’ prices between cities and rural areas to the use of different currencies.

“The South African rand is predominantly used in Chivi and that can be the cause of price variation,” Mugaga said.

The NIPC reports comes amid reports that hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans in drought-ravaged areas are living on wild fruits and competing with wild animals to access scarce food and water amid intensifying hunger.

There are escalating fears that rural folk could starve to death unless food relief efforts are intensified immediately.

In September this year, the Rome-based UN agency World Food Programme warned that some 2,2 million people were in need of urgent food aid.

The UN agency said this was the highest number of Zimbabweans requiring food assistance since early 2009, when more than half the population relied on such aid.

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