This Ramadan in Algeria is described as one of the most economically costly in the country's history due to the sharp increase in the prices of some basic foodstuffs.
The increase in food prices, which started months ago with the reflections of the Covid-19 epidemic affecting the whole world and the Russia-Ukraine war, multiplied before Ramadan despite the government's economic policies and support programmes in Algeria.
Due to the shortage of vegetable oil, semolina and various food products in the country, queues formed in front of shops in many cities.
- Increase in food prices
According to the report published at the beginning of the month by the Statistics Authority of the Algerian Ministry of Finance, prices of agricultural products increased by 3.2 per cent and food products by 2 per cent in February.
In the report, it was pointed out that meat and chicken prices increased by 19 per cent and vegetable and fruit prices increased by 8.2 per cent compared to the previous month.
The increase in food prices compared to the same month last year was 9 per cent.
- The government tried to maintain the balance of supply and demand
Two days before Ramadan, Algerian President Abdel Majid Tebbun ordered the government to increase control and organisation of supply, especially in the big cities, to prevent any fluctuations in prices.
The government had recently announced that it would import fresh meat from Sudan and live cattle from Brazil in order to break the wave of high prices. However, according to experts, the government's move also failed to achieve its goal.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, more than 5,000 live cattle from Brazil have entered the country since the beginning of Ramadan.
Cattle were also imported from Mali and Niger to be sold in the southern cities of the country in order to increase the supply of red meat in the market.
Civil servant and pensioner salary increase aroused satisfaction
The government led by President Tebbun raised wages, especially civil servants' and pensioners' salaries, before Ramadan, which aroused partial satisfaction among the public despite the inflation rate of around 9.4 per cent.
In addition, some deficiencies in basic foodstuffs due to import-export problems are also trying to be eliminated with the measures taken by the government.
It is aimed to protect the purchasing power of the people with some basic foodstuffs subsidised by the state in the market and neighbourhood solidarity markets specially established by the government for Ramadan.
Algerian Prime Minister Ayman Bin Abdurrahman had previously apologised to the victimised people by holding stockists responsible for the unavailability of food products subsidised by the state in the market.
Shortly before Ramadan, Minister of Trade Kemal Ruzeyk, who was subjected to very serious reactions in the trade sector, especially import and export, was dismissed by President Tebbun and Tayyip Zeytuni was appointed instead.
- Record price increases in some products
Mustafa Zebadi, President of the Algerian Consumer Protection Association, told AA correspondent that the prices of some products increased more than ever before during Ramadan.
Emphasising that the high prices were not general and comprehensive, but affected certain products, especially agricultural products, Zebadi said, "The prices of products subsidised by the state (semolina, oil, sugar and milk) were somewhat stabilised during Ramadan and marketed at affordable prices by public institutions." he said.
Zebadi said that there has been a record increase in the prices of agricultural products in particular.
- Historic high prices
Tahir Bulnuar, President of the Algerian National Association of Merchants and Craftsmen, pointed out that the prices of some food products reached the highest level in history during Ramadan.
Stating that there was no shortage of some food products before Ramadan despite speculation that there would be a shortage of some food products, Bulnuar said, "However, there was a record increase in meat and some vegetable and fruit prices compared to previous years. The increase in red and white meat prices is due to the lack of sufficient domestic production."
Bulnuar said the government's imports of red meat from Sudan and live cattle from Brazil and neighbouring countries did not reduce prices in the market, but prevented them from increasing further.
- Indispensables of Ramadan tables in demand
In Algeria, chickpeas, semolina, flour, bulgur, meat and chicken, meat and chicken and various spices, which are the basic ingredients of dishes such as harira and firik soup, couscous and tagine, which are indispensable for Ramadan tables, were the most popular foodstuffs among the people.
AA team handed a microphone to the people shopping for Ramadan at Al-Barakat Bazaar (shopping centre) near the capital.