KINSHASA OFFICIALS TO CONTROL FROZEN FOOD IMPORTS AS PRICES JUMP 30%
The government in the Democratic Republic of Congo – based in Kinshasa – is reportedly planning to take control of frozen food imports in an effort to cut prices.
The authorities are planning to cut out importers and wholesalers after recent initiatives to reduce food costs for the consumer resulted, instead, in increases.
According to reports, imported frozen chicken, which is particularly popular in the Congolese capital, has recently increased in price in local markets by about one third.
Kinshasa is said to be highly dependent on frozen food imports, as its population, like that of many other African capitals, has swelled, but the domestic agricultural sector has not grown to satisfy the surging local demand.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit the local agricultural sector hard, exacerbating issues of shortages of locally produced food in Kinshasa.
Importers are said to undervalue the goods they bring in to reduce the amount of import duties they pay, before selling these goods to wholesalers at inflated prices.
These wholesalers, in turn, reportedly limit supply to local outlets in order to drive up prices on the streets, something that has sparked concern within the populace.
The authorities ordered a cut in prices, but the result has been a cut in supply that has seen shops running short and prices going up.
In response, the central government is now planning to buy frozen produce from exporters and organise the supply of it to local stores.
While it remains unclear if this approach will be more successful than previous efforts to limit prices, some analysts have said encouraging local agricultural production is a more realistic long-term solution.
Previously, analysts have noted that a variety of interests control food markets in Kinshasa, including mayors and other officials, often extracting “taxes” from traders.
Such informal taxes come on top of the official taxes, which themselves are often not fed into the government bureaucracy in the way they are supposed to be.
As reported recently by Sial Paris Newsroom, among the other concerns affecting the African agricultural sector is flooding, which is forecast to become an increasing issue as the effects of climate change become more severe.