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Regional Price Hikes For Flour And Bread Hit Tajikistan

"Tanoor" bread is a Tajik staple (RFE/RL) DUSHANBE, September 11, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Flour prices in Dushanbe have risen by nearly 33 percent increase since last week, causing many shoppers to leave the markets empty-handed and surprised by the price spike.

An RFE/RL Tajik Service correspondent in Dushanbe reported that 50-kilogram sacks of flour were selling for $32 -- compared to $25 a week ago. The increase affected shoppers who were buying flour and bread for the upcoming holy month of Ramadan.

The average salary in Tajikistan is about 90 to 100 somoni ($30) per month.

Similar increases in the price of flour, wheat, and bread have also been seen in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in recent weeks. In Uzbekistan's Ferghana Valley, residents took to the streets last week to protest against rising prices for staples.

Muhammad-Ali Sharifov, a merchant who sells flour in Dushanbe's Safariyon market, told RFE/RL that wheat and flour suppliers in Kazakhstan have increased their prices, leaving Tajik businesses with no choice but to raise their own prices.

"But at least Kazakhstan has a big enough supply of wheat, so there are no shortages of wheat and flour supplies," Sharifov said. "Perhaps there will be more stable prices in October after the new harvest season in Kazakhstan. We don't know yet."

The prices for wheat, flour, and bread have risen by 50 percent in Tajikistan in the past two months. At the beginning of July a sack of flour in a Dushanbe market cost about $16.

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

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