The Ebola virus outbreak in Liberia has begun to hit hard as an increasing scarcity of locally produced food commodities, such as charcoal, greens, bitter balls, pepper and many others, has hit the urban markets of Monrovia.
Correspondingly, prices of those critically needed commodities continue to sky rocket daily as house wives, restaurant operators, food catering centers and cook shops are now bearing the brunt of socioeconomic hardships.
Interestingly, as a result of the imposed State of Emergency, the movement of Liberian businesspeople in rural Liberia has been considerably reduced and this has contributed to the current scarcity of essential food commodities in Monrovia’s marketplaces.
Happily, the price of Liberia’s staple food, rice, has remained stable and available on the Liberian market, though scarce in some parts of the country as a result of rapid spread of the Ebola virus.
In separate tours of two of Monrovia’s general markets, our reporter found local wholesale and retail sellers complaining of serious scarcity of the food commodities normally brought in Monrovia from rural Liberia.
Presently, in Monrovia and its environs, wholesale and retail sellers are buying locally produced food commodities at very high cost from rural producers that make their way to Monrovia through difficult conditions.
During the tour of one of the markets, women, men and children were observed to be very much weary and worried about the unprecedented spread deadly Ebola virus in several parts of the country.
“We are yet buying food at high cost but we gravely worry about the Ebola virus spread and its killing of our people in several parts of the country,” housewife Mary B. Duncan asserted.
“At the moment,” Mrs. Duncan explained, “my husband gives me LS$500.00 everyday for our food money in Monrovia.”
One Monrovia food analyst told the Daily Observer Monday that with the closure of the Ivorian borders with Liberia, major food and essential commodities would be scarce on the Liberian markets in the coming months.
Food analyst Daniel M. Franklin underscored the urgent to relax some of the restrictions with businesspeople especially those bringing critically needed food commodities to Monrovia and other urban markets in the country.
Mr. Franklin also noted that the recent Ministry of Commerce and Industry move to meet major importers of the nation’s staple food rice was great and timely to preempt the panic buying of commodities by Liberians in Monrovia.
In several parts of Monrovia, in spite of the grave socio-economic hardship being endured by many Liberians, hundreds of residents are seen in a panicked buying spree due to the rapid spread of Ebola virus and scarcity of some essential commodities.
But, Mr. Franklin stressed that the Commerce Ministry senior staff and Ministers should begin another phase of ensuring that locally produced food commodities should remain stable and available at the Monrovia and other urban markets.
“I want the Inspectorate Division of MOCI to embark on vigorous monitoring and evaluation of the local markets in Monrovia and its environs in order to ensure compliance with and adherence to the laws against profiteering,” Mr. Franklin pleaded.