A number of foods and beverages in the holy month of Ramadan are like religious rituals for Egyptians. Low-income people’s budgets are severely disrupted as a result of purchasing meat, chicken and fish during the month, as well as a variety of desserts, a cultural necessity for Egyptian households.
Nuts or “Yamesh” as well as dates are essential ingredients in desserts. However, the current prices of nuts are expensive and each class in the community buy specific nuts according to their budget and market prices.
Yamesh vendors in the Sayeda Zeinab region, “the region where people buy the most nuts”, said that hazelnut prices increased three or four times to reach EGP 170 ($22.2) per kilo. Hazelnuts are the most expensive type of nuts because the government stopped its import.
Meanwhile, the price of cashews and pistachios are EGP 110 ($14.5) per kilo, the same as last Ramadan. However, Qamar El-Deen (Apricot paste) prices rose due to the lack of Syrian Qamar El-Deen, one of the best, because imports from Syria have stopped, he added.
“Syrian Qamar El-Deen exists in the market due to availability in last year’s stock, however the stock will expire in less than six months and the price of one piece reaches EGP 30 ($4). The market is full of domestic badly-made Qamar El-Deen, but there is demand for it because of low prices,” he said. “The price of dried apricots reaches EGP 60 ($8) per kilo, and date prices range from EGP 5 to EGP 25 ($3.2). The most popular types of dates are [named after] [President] Al-Sisi, [belly dancer] Safinaz, and [martyrs] Khaled Said and Mohammed El-Gendy.”
The vendor added that vendors during Ramadan buy traditional cheap nuts, as well as less expensive dates because highly priced products are not frequently purchased in the market.
He noted that the prices are significantly affected by the halt in the import of Ramadan products, which led to vendors raising the prices of their stock of Ramadan products and the prices of local products despite the lack of quality.
A woman buying nuts said that the prices are too high, and is replacing expensive ones with peanuts, raisins and coconut shavings.
The Ministry of Finance pointed out that several products were imported for the month of Ramadan, which included EGP 259.96m worth of nuts and dried fruits. Dried apricots were imported for EGP 31.5m, while dates were imported for EGP 64.51m.
Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Governor Hisham Ramez said that CBE did not open credit documentations to import goods during Ramadan like Yamesh in the last period; however, the market has not seen a shortage of any commodities.
By Shaimaa Elise
© 2019 Daily News Egypt.