Fermented fish - YOUM7-Archive
CAIRO - 17 April 2017: The price of salted fish rose roughly 100 percent in local markets as Egyptians prepare to celebrate Sham El-Nessim, an Egyptian spring festival. Consequently, there was a significant decline in sales of about 50 percent, fish traders told Egypt Today.
“There is a notable increase in salted fish prices, EGP150 for 1 kg of fesikh, compared to EGP60 during the previous year, and ringa prices also raised to EGP60 up from EGP 30, while prices in supermarkets rose to EGP 250 and EGP300 respectively for one kilo,” a fish wholesaler, Ahmed Kewan, told Egypt Today.
The jump in prices triggered a significant decline in sales for wholesalers, retailers and citizens as well, he added. “A man who was previously buying two kilos of fesikh is not able now to buy the same quantities, so he may either buy just 1 kilo or turn to ringa, which is cheaper,” Kewan said.
Salted fish including fesikh and ringa are traditional Egyptian foods eaten almost exclusively during Sham El-Nassim, a festival which dates to pharaonic times and used to herald the coming of the spring floods.
In modern times, Sham El-Nessim, which translates to “smelling the breeze,” falls on Coptic Orthodox Easter Monday.
There are different reasons behind the increase in fish prices in Egypt. “We are importing 25 percent of our consumption due to a 15 percent yearly decrease in quantities of fish derived from our seas and lakes along with the Nile River,” Kewan said.
This resulting local shortage of fish forced the government to depend on imports, but November’s flotation of the local currency added another challenge when it comes to discussing importing, Kewan added.
The Egyptian government started to implement an aggressive economic program including floating the Egyptian pound coupled with introducing a value-added tax and subsidy cuts. These reforms were necessary for Cairo to sign a $12 billion deal with the International Monetary Fund to support Egypt's economic reform program over three years.
“The non availability and high prices of the US dollar doesn’t allow importers to bring in commodities in the same quantities, so they are forced to reduce the amounts of imported fish, and that’s why the supply became so small,” said Ahmed Gafr, head of the fish department in the Cairo Chamber of Commerce.