No more free pepper – Ga Kenkey Sellers warn

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Some Ga Kenkey vendors in Accra are now considering charging customers for the previously complimentary pepper as economic challenges in Ghana worsen, contributing to a broader increase in the cost of living.

The latest economic data indicates a marginal rise in the year-on-year inflation rate for January 2024, with the current inflation rate reaching 23.5%. Ghana joins other Sub-Saharan African countries grappling with notably high inflation rates.

Essential ingredients for staple meals, such as Jollof, Banku, Fufu, and Kenkey, have witnessed inflation rates surpassing 40% in January.

Fresh tomatoes, carrying a significant 1.2 weight in determining national inflation, have surged by 52.3%, while other crucial elements like pepper, onions, and fish have inflation rates double the national average.

Despite being one of the more affordable food options in Accra, Ga Kenkey is expected to see a price increase. The local delicacy, traditionally served with pepper sauce, slices of onions, tomatoes, and fish, may no longer include these accompaniments free of charge.

Kenkey sellers are contemplating a review of their operational costs to cope with the continuous surge in market prices. Consequently, the previously complimentary pepper sauce with slices of onions and tomatoes might now come with an additional charge.

Many Kenkey vendors cite the high pricing of goods in the market as the driving force behind their decision. The shift raises questions about the perspectives and experiences of these market workers in the face of economic challenges.

“The prices of goods have gone up in the market. The price of the green pepper has increased astronomically. If we don’t increase the prices of kenkey, we will run at a loss.”

“There’s a high possibility we might start selling the red pepper and the shito. We can’t continue to give it for free. We will package them in small bottles and sell them. Very soon the pepper will be sold.”

Some patrons of Kenkey have shared varied views on this decision to price the pepper accompaniment, previously provided for free.

“I like kenkey so if the pepper is going to be sold, we will buy it. Prices of goods are very high now, it’s not their fault, so I understand them.”

“I think it’s outrageous,” another said.

Speaking to Citi News, General Secretary of the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), Edward Kariwe, explained the rationale behind the pricing of goods by farmers before reaching the market.

Edward Kariwe believes that this decision by Kenkey sellers to increase pricing is only a reflection of the government’s failure within the agriculture sector.

Also, the Ranking Member on the Agric and Cocoa Committee in parliament, Godfred Seidu Jasaw, believes that the government would have to provide proper incentive systems for farmers to improve the agricultural sector.

“It’s not the farmers creating the price hikes, at the farm gate, it’s low but then you will also have to sympathize with those who make it possible to pick up the produce from the farm gate to the market centers.

“It has to go through a mirage of challenges, bad roads, fuel cost and other labour cost along the value chain. About one-third would have rotten by the time it gets to the markets,” he said.

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