Vegetable prices continued to rise this week in governorates throughout Egypt, with per-kilo tomato prices reaching LE13; garlic LE9; cucumbers LE5; potatoes LE4; and fava beans LE10.
Gawaher Saad al-Sharbini, head of consumer rights in the Qena Governorate, said a campaign was being organized aimed at boycotting tomatoes and replacing them with canned tomato sauce in an effort to force retailers to lower their prices.
"The high prices are a huge burden on my household budget," said Mohasen al-Bayoumi, a teacher in Qena. "A meal consisting of rice, meat and vegetables for my family of five now costs almost LE90."
Qena Governor Magdy Ayoub laid the blame for the price hikes on the local Chamber of Commerce. At a recent meeting with chamber head Ismail Wishahy and a number of wholesalers, Ayoub stressed the importance of coordinating the activities of chamber executives and wholesalers–especially given that Qena represents one of Egypt's mainstays for tomato production.
In order to bring down prices, Ayoub said, the number of middlemen involved in the delivery of vegetables from farmer to consumer must be reduced. He called on the government to provide the public with subsidized foodstuffs and to provide farmers with "agricultural guidance."
Retail vegetable prices are also on the rise in the Beheira Governorate.
“The price of tomatoes has reached LE10 per kilo; potatoes and onions LE3; garlic LE12; and green beans LE4,” lamented Beheira housewife Niema Hassan Zidan. "With our meager household income, I don't know how we'll survive."