Vendors feel the pinch of price hike on imported vegetables, fruits

National 2 minutes, 26 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

VENDORS at the Tamu Kianggeh are feeling the pinch of rising prices of imported vegetables and fruits, causing slow business and insecurities to their source of income, The Brunei Times learned yesterday.

Occupying two stalls, 56-year-old Hjh Raidah Abdullah said that vegetables imported from Kota Kinabalu, China and Australia have risen by about 30 cents, but also shared that the same goes for local produce as well.

She said that wholesalers informed her that there is a low supply of fruits and vegetables, particularly chillies and lime, adding that out of all her wares, the leafy vegetables are local, except for carrots, tomatoes and cauliflower.

The full-time stallowner from Rimba told The Brunei Times that her vegetables are typically sold out by the end of the day but business was particularly slow for her yesterday.

This could be attributed to the time of the month as many people do not visit the market in the middle of the month, she said.

As a middle-person in the business game, she said that fluctuations in prices are beyond her control and cannot be helped, especially when her earnings are needed to provide for her family.

Noramalina Abdullah Yar, 52, said she has seen prices go up as much as a dollar. She sells imported vegetables from Kota Kinabalu, namely longbeans, eggplants, cabbages and tomatoes.

She said that wholesalers justified the price hikes due to floods and heavy rains that have ruined crops and kept supplies low.

The stallowner lamented that she has had customers complain and getting angry about the prices and had to sell her wares off at usual prices which are much lower and ending up barely breaking even for the day.

Hjh Aisah Hj Awang Inchi, 65, said that prices and business was stable from the 80s up to the 90s, but started to get shaky in the recent years.

The stallowner at Tamu Kianggeh for 20 years said that making a living through selling vegetables alone has become difficult and now even more so with the rising prices due to low supplies and increase in fuel prices. Another obstacle that she shared was the presence of unlicensed vendors who can afford to sell similar goods at a cheaper price. Although customers complain and rant about the price hikes, she said that there is no use making a big fuss over it as everybody else had taken similar actions.

For instance, a bunch of bananas was sold from 40 cents to a dollar within this week.

She commented that wholesalers do not suffer as much as the vendors do. But there is very little that can be done to bring the market back to how it used to be.

According to 2007 statistics from the Agriculture Department, Brunei exported 10,904.9 metric tonnes of crops estimated at $13.37 million, compared to local production of 595.8 metric tonnes valued at $1 million, which equates to a self sufficiency rate of 5.2 per cent.

The Brunei Times