Mon 20 Jan 2020

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The bread bundle shrinks as prices rise in Idlib

A child in bakery line for bread in Idlib Syria (Internet)

A child in bakery line for bread in Idlib Syria (Internet)

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Through its program “What is your problem”, Enab Baladi surveyed a proportion of Idlib’s residents, about the reasons behind the reduction of the weight of bread bundle and its impact on them.

The head of storage at the General Establishment for Cereal Processing and Trade (GECPT) in Idlib, Hussam Ibrahim, confirmed in an interview with Enab Baladi, that there are alternative plans to re-impose control on the price of bread.

Weight of bundles reduced but not the price

“A bundle is not even enough for a small child,” according to one of the participants in the survey. The bakeries are now making bread bundle at the weight of 780 grams with 7 to 9 loaves, at the same price of before the reduction, 200 SYP (0.38 USD)

Two years ago, a bundle, in Idlib, had 12 loaves before it was reduced to 10 loaves and then to 7-9 today.

A family in Idlib would’ve needed 3 bundles per day two years ago, but with the occurring changes of bundles’ weight and size, the same family needs 6 bundles per day, according to some participants in the survey.

Speaking to Enab Baladi, a bakery owner, said that they are using Turkish flour to make bread, and that they depend on refined fuel to operate the machines.

The reasons behind changing the bundle are related to the high USD exchange rate, lack of fuel due to the blockage of roads in north-eastern Syria, in addition to the costly maintenance of the machines used in making bread, according to the owner.

The owner stressed that it is in the interest of the bakeries to sell bread bundles with the weight of one kilogram, which will reduce the time of producing it.

The people said that the reason behind the high prices of bread is the shortage of diesel and the merchants’ monopoly over it, in addition to exporting Syrian wheat to other countries.

The participants in the survey believe that solving this problem is the responsibility of local officials in Idlib, given that the one who sets the price for bread is the Bakeries Directorate of the Salvation Government (SG).

Speaking to Enab Baladi, Hussam Ibrahim, the head of GECPT, pointed out that the high cost of bread is caused by high prices of flour and diesel, high exchange rate of USD, in addition to the lack of resources.  

He said that the GECPT has backup stores for wheat and fuel, and that helped the establishment to maintain the weight of bread bundles for 14 days during the fuel crisis which faced Idlib.

The role of the establishment is that of coordination rather than service provision, according to Ibrahim, who said that the GECPT has alternative plans to address the problem of the high prices of bread. Ibrahim pointed out that this can be done through arrangements with several mills to use local wheat, and where mills are given fuel at a subsidised price, which leads to lowering the price of bread and increasing the weight of bundles.

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