PAKWACH. Market vendors in Pakwach district are facing acute shortage of food supply due to the high transport cost compelled by the effect of coronavirus pandemic.

The traders mainly dealing in perishable vegetables like tomatoes, onions and other food stuff such as bananas said the high cost has equally resulted into low sales.

They said consumers are now failing to buy most of the food items due to the hiked prices meant to balance the cost of transport.

At Ojigo market in Wadelai sub-county, Ms Emmanuella Acen, a tomato vendor said they used to buy a box of tomatoes at shs70, 000 but from the time COVID-19 lockdown was announced, a box went to shs100, 000.

Acen now fears that the increase in price is likely to phase many petty traders out of market since they survive on loans.

"This is a big challenge to almost all the traders. We are worried of how to settle our loans and for my case, I’m about to start using my capital. So, I appeal to the government to consider bailing us out,” she begged.

Aceng noted that the ever-increasing cost of living is likely to affect her savings which used to cater for her children’s school fees since all her alternative sources are currently grappling.

At Pokwero market in Panyango sub-county, most of the traders are demanding for an irrigation scheme in the area so that farmers can not only rely on the unpredictable weather pattern for their crops if the ongoing challenge is to be addressed.

But Mr Milton Oneka, another businessman in Wadelai sub-county advised that the COVID-19 lockdown should teach his colleague traders and farmers to devise alternative means of dealing with the impact of the pandemic locally.

He said in rural communities, the decline in food supply is affecting the vulnerable people like the elderly as youths are busy shunning agriculture yet they constitute the biggest consumer population.

Oneka urged local leaders to come up with strict food safety measures and enforce them in order to avert possible hunger outbreak after COVID-19.

Similarly, Pakwach main market which comprises of mainly urban dwellers, the demand and price of food stuff like banana and beans is high thus leaving locals with no any other option.

"For real, the lockdown and curfew have greatly affected us. Can you imagine a fresh batch of banana which I used to buy at shs5, 000 now goes for shs11, 000?” Mr Ronald Magezi, a resident of Pakwach town said.

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However, Mr Jonathan Opar, the Pakwach district secretary for production called for robust training on priority rural food production to ease the burden of unnecessary expenditure due to the hiked food prices.

He said for now, all measures intended to boost production have been suspended due to COVID-19 outbreak.

Opar observed that as a district, they intend to work with partners like ActionAid to empower rural farmer groups on the relevance of land ownership as a sure means of production.