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Food prices spike in Afghanistan amid COVID-19 crisis

Kabul, March 17 (IANS) With the number of coronavirus cases increasing and also due to its border closures with Pakistan and Iran, the prices of food and other essentials in Afghanistan have doubled, causing hundreds of residents to stockpile on supplies.

As of now, Afghanistan has reported 16 confirmed coronavirus cases with no deaths.

Responding to the development, the Ministry of Interior on Monday sent a notice to businesses across the country saying not to to sell at a higher price, warning them that it was a crime and that perpetrators will be punished, TOLO News reported.

But prices had already skyrocketed by the time the notice was issued.

In the last 24 hours, a 49 kg bag of flour doubled from Afs900 ($11) to Afs1,800 ($22, and was even going for Afs2,500 (32) in some parts of Kabul.

The price hike created panic among Kabul residents, some of whom stood in line outside shops to buy supplies for at least three months.

Pakistan and some other countries, including Uzbekistan, have cut supply lines with Afghanistan, but according to the Chamber of Commerce and Investment, the import of supplies has not been affected by this restriction.

Afghanistan imports its flour mostly from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan.

“The Turkmenistan border is open normally… There is no problem. The trucks are coming and are carrying commodities. The Uzbekistan border is also open,” said Yunus Mohmand, deputy head of the chamber.

–IANS

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