Only few days into Ramadan, one thing has become extremely apparent. Even though people are piled into grocery stores on a daily basis, the prices of goods are on the higher end this Ramadan, and for many, this means rationing and re-thinking dishes beforehand.
Ramadan is a month when households happily explore their palette, and prepare cuisines from around the world. Some even start preparing lists and recipes weeks and months ahead of Ramadan just to have a handful of ideas for dishes to prepare throughout the month. In most households, two to three variety of dishes can be seen at the dining table for Iftar, with at least one dessert and two choices for drinks.
Cooking and eating are a big part of Ramadan as friends, families, neighbours and loved ones come together to share dishes and recipes; this month is one of the times in the year when people come together to enjoy a hearty meal together. With food playing such a big part every Ramadan, in a lot of households, it is almost tradition to prepare something new and exciting for iftar, however, with the increasing prices this has proved to be difficult this time around.
This might not be believable to anyone who went shopping at the local markets or stores and did not check the price as there is definitely an influx of products for shoppers to choose from. This fantasy of getting a cart full of groceries to prepare the best dishes to feed your family, however, ends the moment you ask the price of goods on the market.
With some of the products such as coconuts are skyrocketing as the price hike went from MVR 300 per sack of coconut to an eye-watering MVR 1,600 per sack. This is an unimaginable price increase as the Maldivian cuisine and many of the dishes that are prepared during the month of Ramadan heavily incorporate coconuts, making it difficult for households to obtain coconuts at this price or forcing people to find a substitute with store-bought coconut cream.
Coconuts, however, are not the only product that saw a price hike this year as some of the most commonly used groceries such as cucumbers, lettuce, colewort leaves as well as papaya and oranges saw a price hike this year. While most of us expected a slight price hike considering the tax increases and the recent economic struggles, nobody expected the price to increase to the level it did as most products are almost double the price per kilo compared to how much they cost last year.
Some of the price increases also appear to have happened just in time for Ramadan, such as the price of watermelons. The price of watermelons was going at a rate of MVR 12-15 per kilo just a few days before the start of Ramadan and now the price for a kilo of watermelon is going at MVR 25 at the lowest for imported watermelon while local watermelon from the Maldives is at a rate of MVR 28-30 per kilo.
While this price hike is not true for all of the products in the markets or grocery stores, there is no doubt that such an increase in prices for commonly used goods such as watermelons or collard-greens is going to take a toll on many households this Ramadan.
With watermelon juice being one of the most common thing found on the iftar table for households, almost on a daily basis, this price hike definitely means that people are either having to look for alternative dishes this year or suffering expensive food budget this Ramadan.