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Fish : Inevitable Price Hikes

Fresh fish is always present on shopping lists for a majority of households during festive periods.

The rich source of protein, fish, is one of the items that is always present in households’ menu as well as restaurants and hotels. Many types of fish are sold in the economic capital, Douala. Though majority sold are frozen imported ones, a good quantity is also fished from the city’s waters. Youpwe, for example, is a fresh fish market where buyers buy directly from fishermen as from 4am. Buyers are mostly hotel and restaurant operators. The prices of fish in the port city of Douala fluctuate according to availability. 

However, an increase in the prices of fish is always blamed on speculation by importers and wholesalers. According to an assistant in a fish store in the Grand Hangar Market in Bonaberi, James Mbeh, fresh fish from local waters are often more expensive than frozen imported ones. The Youpwe fishermen though carry out artisanal fishing with canoes and boats, equally help to bridge the demand and supply gap which is always the order of the day. Industrial fishers in Douala (foreigners using adequate fishing equipment) sell their catch at the Fish Port situated in the Douala Seaport to fish store owners in cartons of 20 kilogrammes.

Cold store dealers buy a carton of 20kg of fresh bar fish from fishermen at FCFA 50,000 and sell at FCFA 60,000 making a profit of FCFA 10,000 and a kg during retail cost FCFA 3,000. Dora Greece is given at between FCFA 34,000 and FCFA 35,000 and when a retailer sells in kgs, the gain per carton is just between FCFA 5,000 and FCFA 7,000. A 20kg of fresh “capitaine” cost FCFA 50,000 and a store owner retails a kg at FCFA 2,800 making a gain of FCFA 6,000. 

Imported ones are not as expensive as homemade. A 20kg of mackerel “oya-oya” cost FCFA 25,000 and it is retailed at FCFA 1,350 making FCFA 2,000 gain per carton. While 20kg of Swiss bar is given to store owners at FCFA 34,000 or FCFA 35,000 and they retail at FCFA 42,000 or FCFA 45,000.

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