Vegetables are literally becoming out of reach of the common man as their wholesale and retail prices have lately been going sky-high.
The problem is being caused as lorries bringing imports from Syria, Jordan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are being subjected to strict checks at the Saudi Arabia customs authorities.
Wholesalers at the Central Market told this newspaper yesterday that imports had been dwindling as not many lorries were able to cross over the Saudi side of the Qatari-Saudi border.
The lorries are being cleared in hours and eye witnesses say serpentine queues of lorries carrying vegetables, fruits and all sorts of other food items are seen lined up on the Saudi side of Abu Samra check post on the Qatari-Saudi border.
The most common vegetables such as tomatoes and potatoes which low-income people could easily afford to buy are selling at almost double their prices recently in the retail and wholesale markets.
According to a wholesaler who did not want his name in print, if 40 lorries full of vegetables and fruits were coming in every day on average, the number had dropped to almost half.
When told about the lorry problem, the wholesaler said he was not aware of the problem. “The more the supply, the less the prices. This is the simple demand and supply rule that works at the wholesale market. Supplies are erratic so the rates have been going up,” said the wholesaler.
Asked for comment, Ahmed Al Sheeb, a former member of the Central Municipal Council (CMC) told this newspaper that the simple solution to the problem of price hikes was that a Qatari official should be posted at the central market permanently to monitor the sale of stocks by importers to the wholesalers.
Or, alternatively, a shareholding company should be set up and given the charge of the vegetable wholesale business, he suggested.
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