How much does Turkmen pilaf cost?

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Kerim Raibetov


ASHGABAT, Oct 23 – Residents of eastern Turkmenistan call the rise in prices for food and staple products unprecedented, according to the "Turkmen Human Rights Initiatives" report. Longtime residents of the area assert that prices for vegetables, fruits and other groceries have never increased at the Lebap farmers' markets as much as they have this year; which may be why prices for food produced in the country have increased more than prices for imported foods.

No longer can everyone afford to prepare traditional pilaf, the main meal for many local residents. Local rice now costs between 25,000 and 35,000 manta ($2 to $4 [USD]) per kilogram compared to 5,000 to 8,000 manat in the autumn of 2006. Prices for carrots, onions and vegetable oil, all locally grown products, have also soared. Experts say imported bananas and mandarins are cheaper than locally grown grapes, peaches, and apples.

Now in order to make pilaf, a dish with five main ingredients – meat, rice, carrots, onions, and vegetable oil – a family will have to spend 150,000 – 200,000 manat or between $10 and $15 from its tight budget. And if they invite guests over, as is the local custom, the cost is even higher.

While the Turkmen press writes about socially oriented reform in the country, on average, food prices have grown five to 10 times in the past 18 months to two years while wages have increased by just ten percent once a year. [Turkmenistan Chronicle]

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