Buea Traders Lament How Bad Roads, Numerous Checkpoints Inflate Plantain Prices


By Epamba Jemimah

Eunice Elvis is a trader at the Muea market in Buea. She buys plantains from Muyuka and sells them at Muea. Unlike before when the business was smooth and she was making huge profits, the job is now hectic as she has been forced to inflate her prices.

That is because, when she buys at lower prices from farmers, before she reaches Buea, she has spent a lot settling numerous control checkpoints.

Aside that, the increase in the price of petrol has also pushed drivers to increase the cost of transportation. Eunice needs to break even and, for that, she can’t bear the cost. That is why she shifts to consumers and sells to them at exorbitant prices.

“I buy from Pondo, Mautu and Muyuka to sell at Muea market. I buy plantain FCFA 5,000 for big bunches then FCFA 3,000 for small bunch,” she says. “To transport a bunch, you will have to pay FCFA 400 just to reach Muea, so if you buy many it is calculated per bunch.”

Meanwhile, for Mabu Martha, also a trader who buys from Muyuka, Bafia, Ikata farmers, the farm-to-market roads are not tarred and this causes her to use other means.

“Where the Hilux vehicle cannot reach you have to use a truck or Moto bike and they turn to charge us highly,” she says.

Now, with the Anglophone Crisis, things have gotten worst for her. That is because many are seeking refuge in the bushes and as such turn to eat all the plantain causing a shortage.

“Transportation is expensive, we have to settle police control, other control and taxes in the market impose by the council are too much. So I have to increase the price of the plantain so that I can go home with something to eat,” she says.

Martha says she buys a big bunch for FCFA 3,500 and, when it arrives Buea, she has to increase the price so as to cover up the price as she turns to sell big bunches for FCFA 8,000 and the smaller bunches for 3,500.

The hike in plantain prices is complicating things for consumer, especially those who buy to transform into other produce. Esther Epie, a mother of two, has been into chips business for over three years now. Owing to the price increase, she can’t afford to continue with the business. For that, she has switched from chips to roasting corn.

“Plantain that I usually buy a bunch for FCFA 3,500 and 4,000 when I fry I can realise a profit of FCFA 4,000. But, now, I buy plantain for FCFA 8,000 a bunch and could just realise FCFA 1,500. So I have to switch and wait when the price will reduce,” she says.

It is not only plantain whose prices have increased. Other farm produce, like cassava, corn and others, have also increased. This is having an adversely on the consumers and many food sellers.

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