Ramadan bargains

Mai Samih , Sunday 10 Mar 2024

Al-Ahram Weekly goes shopping at the government’s discount outlets as the month of fasting approaches.

Ramadan bargains


In an attempt to provide citizens with the essentials before the start of the month of fasting next week, the Ministry of Supply has set up several Ahlan Ramadan (Welcome Ramadan) discount outlets in every governorate at reasonable prices to ramp up its already existing facilities, in addition to mobile markets.

Shopping for Ramadan was a 40-year-old housewife with her two teenage daughters in Al-Omraniya Al-Gharbiya district. She, along with others, are looking for good offers on the products she needs at home during the holy month. “I found all the products I need for reasonable prices,” she said. However, she added, “I had a hard time getting sugar. I came at 7am to line up for it, but the sugar supply for the day was finished by the time my turn came, unfortunately. I’ll come another day for it.”

Asmaa, another housewife, said she came twice to buy sugar, “but it was finished before I could get any. I wish they would provide us with more sugar every day. I bought dates and rice for decent prices, however.”

Sugar has been in short supply in recent months. While it is sold for over LE50 per kilo at supermarkets, it is available in government outlets for LE27 per kilo but runs out quickly. Hazem Al-Menoufi, a member of the Food Product General Division at the General Federation of Chambers of Commerce, said on television earlier this week that the sugar shortage should be over in around 10 days. He said that citizens should see its price drop as the value of the dollar drops in the parallel market.

The sugar shortage has been caused by a short supply of hard currency needed for imports and hoarding by some traders. The value of the dollar has been dropping for the past 10 days on news of the arrival of $10 billion as part of a UAE investment in the North Coast. In the meantime, parliament last week issued a new law imposing stricter penalties on hoarders.

Ahlan Ramadan fairs offer a discount of between 15 to 30 per cent on a range of products including sugar, cooking oil, rice, pasta, packed beans, fresh and frozen meat, and frozen poultry. For example, a kg of meat is sold for LE270 instead of LE400 elsewhere and a kg of dried dates is sold from LE25 to LE80 instead of LE100 in some markets.

Samir Ahmed is selling yameesh (dried fruits and nuts) in his partition as well as the conventional drinks for Ramadan, like hibiscus. However, the only form of nuts is peanuts in his stall as well as in most of the other stalls. “People mostly buy dates, tamarind, and peanuts,” Ahmed says.  

This year the fair also includes Ramadan boxes which include basic items such as rice and cooking oil and pasta. Egyptians often buy these boxes ahead of Ramadan to give out to needy families as charity. Also available at the fair are coupons worth from LE100 to LE500. These too can be given to needy families to enable them to buy their needs in person.

The Ministry of Agriculture also has an initiative to provide cheap food items. Located in Dokki, the fair provides 200 products through 70 exhibitors from corporations affiliated to the ministry. The fair will last until the end of Ramadan, a ministry press release said.

“I bought everything I wanted for the whole month of Ramadan,” said Seham, a housewife visiting the fair for the first time. “I think that the prices are good compared to other prices on the market. And, best of all, I found sugar for LE27 a kg.”

Hala, another housewife, agreed. “I bought a sack of potatoes (5 kg) for LE30 while I buy a kg of potatoes in the market for LE20.”

Meat, poultry, honey, sugar, vegetables, oil, cheese, rice and nuts, like hazelnuts, were found at the fair for reduced prices.

Advisor to the minister of agriculture and general coordinator of the initiative Said Saleh, said the drive was adopted three years ago to combat high prices and ease the burden of citizens. It includes close to 300 fixed outlets throughout the country, 33 mobile outlets and major exhibitions held in Dokki to serve Greater Cairo, Saleh said.

Saleh said that the fair offers the public products at reduced prices because it provides goods straight from producers to consumers, cutting out the middlemen. “The products come from the farms directly to citizens,” he stressed.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 7 March, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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