Between the “litchi” pill and the “equal” bag: two worlds do not meet


Rahil Dandash wrote in Al-Akhbar:

The month of Ramadan is coming to an end and citizens’ complaints about the high prices of breakfast, especially vegetables, have not ended. But a tour of the countries where it is sold reveals two worlds: a world in which zucchini disappears because of the high price and a world in which broadcasters are devalued because there are those who wanted it.

world number 1
Umm Muhammad leaves early, as usual, for the “Camel Market” in Chiyah, with traders unloading their loads of vegetables and fruits to choose the “comfortable pill”. She spins among the carts in search of what fits her purchasing power to decide based on what she can cook, unlike the behavior she was accustomed to in the past when leaving her home knowing in advance what he wanted. to cook and what kind of vegetables he would buy. “Save me from the trouble of thinking about food,” she laughs sarcastically. They also saved her from carrying a lot of bags, as she now buys her needs with a grain or half a kilogram. “When did we buy the potatoes by the kilogram? She asks, this is unusual for her. What is most unusual is that she is buying garlic with grains. “We have become like Europeans. Today, a kilogram of garlic costs 60,000 Syrian pounds. When we met he confirmed to us that today he could not buy fruit, he would probably buy an orange for juice because it is the cheapest among the types of orange and do not forget to mention that it sometimes exceeds two kilograms. with bananas per month.

Many types of vegetables have disappeared in the carts in the “Camel Market”, there are no zucchini (25 thousand), cucumbers (27 thousand), eggplants (25 thousand) and peas (100 thousand). All kinds are no longer in demand, though they are the main items in Lebanese cuisine, just because their prices are rising every day. The seller will not dare to buy it when he loses half his weight in one day. You can find it in some shopping carts, but in small quantities to meet those who buy. There are clients whose financial situation still allows them to diversify types of food. But in general, the “Camel Market” remains a market for poor and middle-income people from Chiyah, Ain al-Remmaneh and surrounding areas, where prices remain slightly cheaper than in other countries. … but prices remain high, especially as they move without controls. At the beginning of the month of Ramadan, prices skyrocketed, and then bounced back recording partial declines in some species. The reasons vary, according to Ahmed Arida, a member of the Mafraq Fruit and Vegetable Traders’ Union, including: the monopoly of some traders on goods in the first two days and the weather turned from cold to warm, in addition to the fact that the season was abundant this year, especially in citrus that were not exported by land, so their prices fell. Regarding price discrepancies from one country to another, a petition draws attention to fuel costs and quality of goods, as the vegetables distributed in the markets of the poor are different from those distributed to the big stores.

world number 2
Near this market, about a few kilometers from the department is the “Fadi Fruits” store. Here is another world, and clients of a special kind. At a time when there were those waiting at the end of the day to buy leftover vegetables, which are called barracks, at the cheapest possible price, he finds here paying for a Thai fruit more than half a million lira.
Here, fruits and vegetables are sent from all over the world to diversify the journey of a small group of people rich in foreign fruits and vegetables, starting with foreign blueberries, going through black and blueberries, graviola, French thyme, litchi , grapes, cherries, dragons … and many other fruits and vegetables, the names of which only a few know, some of which are sold in pills and others in fines or packages. Here are the well-known and expensive almonds, but also anesthetics. After a few days its price will drop a lot, but there are those who do not expect.

In one corner of the store there are ready-made vegetables, such as zucchini and eggplant without seeds prepared for cooking and carefully cut and packaged fruits. Has the demand for it dropped due to economic conditions? Hussam Al-Habra, the manager of the store hall, denies this. “Anyone who could buy it before the crisis is the same one who buys it today, and they are often from the category of senior employees who do not have time to prepare food.”
There are not many customers, vegetables are ordered through the delivery service, or the driver or maid comes to buy things. Some nearby residents also go to the store to buy local or Syrian fruit, “their prices are almost the same abroad,” says Jenan, a state employee whose salary is being eroded, but her husband, who receives a dollar salary, makes it possible. Occasionally to pet her family with some delicious fruit “at least I guarantee that the vegetables and fruits here are the first chapter, so I do not open the pomegranate cup and find it lying”.
Hussam says items that are not sold are sent to needy families or orphanages. It is called damaged goods, although it is of excellent quality, but the store does not have the opportunity to offer the freshest items to its special customers. He ensures that they as traders are not immune to losses.Sometimes ripe fruits arrive from Australia, for example, due to delays in ship unloading or transportation problems.

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