At Mahmod Azizi’s shop in Afghanistan’s capital, a kilo of lemons now sells for 400 Afghani – more than $5. Low supplies fuelled by coronavirus fears, he said, have pushed him to double his prices.
“They are a high source of vitamin C, so they are in high demand,” the 50-year-old Kabul vendor explained. “Of course I don’t want to increase prices, but what choice do I have? Everyone needs food, but there’s less available in the market. Soon, only the wealthy people might be able to eat.”
Border closures and export restrictions are squeezing supply lines and pushing food prices upward in Afghanistan, raising fears that millions already facing emergency levels of food insecurity will be even more at risk as the coronavirus spreads.
During the last two weeks of March, as COVID-19 cases increased in Afghanistan, the price of wheat flour also surged across the country – including a 20 percent rise in the northeast city of Faizabad.
The increases are caused in part by regional border restrictions as Afghanistan and its neighbours – particularly Pakistan to the south – try to contain a pandemic that has now infected more than 1.3 million people worldwide.