Myanmar Activists Sell Eggs Cheaply Amid Skyrocketing Prices for Food

Food prices have climbed sharply as families struggle to survive amid a surge in COVID-19 infections that is killing hundreds every day.
2021-07-29
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Myanmar Activists Sell Eggs Cheaply Amid Skyrocketing Prices for Food Shoppers line up in Yangon to buy Ye Zaw's 5-kyat eggs and other nonprofit groceries in an undated photo.
Ye Zaw

Groups of social activists in Myanmar have launched a campaign to sell eggs at greatly reduced prices to sick and needy residents as the military-ruled country reels under a spreading COVID pandemic and sharply rising food prices, Myanmar sources say.

Food and clothing costs have skyrocketed in Myanmar as families struggle to survive amid a third wave of COVID-19 infections that is now killing hundreds every day, sources in the country say, with the price of eggs alone climbing three times since the Feb. 1 military coup that ousted the country’s democratically elected civilian government.

And with Myanmar’s ruling military now failing to meet basic needs, a new movement has appeared in Myanmar’s towns and cities to sell eggs normally costing 200 kyat (U.S. $0.061) to 300 (U.S. $0.18) for only 5 kyat each.

“Eggs are a staple food for the common people,” said Ye Zaw, owner of the Flannel Box clothing store in Myanmar’s largest city Yangon, who launched the campaign that is now spreading to other towns and cities in the country, including Mandalay.

“When I went to the market, I was saddened to see people buying only two eggs because they cost 250 kyat each. This is the time to share what you have with others,” he said. “We need to help those who are less fortunate.”

“It’s not easy to buy eggs anymore, as all prices are rising,” said Lin Thura, a resident of Lashio in northern Myanmar’s Shan state who now also sells eggs at a quota of 10 per household at the new reduced price.

“When they started selling eggs for five kyat in Yangon, I thought I would like to do something like that here in Lashio, too,” he said.

Residents waiting in line to buy the eggs at their new price say they hope the staple food will help to keep them healthy and are careful to observe distancing and other COVID-prevention protocols, sources said.

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Five-kyat notes are seen in a receipt box in the Flannel Box store in Yangon in an undated photo. Photo: Ye Zaw

'Prices completely unaffordable'

Speaking to RFA, a housewife in Yangon described what it is like to shop for food as prices continue to quickly climb under military rule.

“I used to pay 300 kyat for [a small quantity] of garlic, but now I have to pay 700 kyat,” she said. “I have to buy it whenever it’s available, and I have no choice but to pay that amount.”

“The cost of drugs is even worse, and face masks that used to cost 1000 kyat each now cost 2500 kyat. Items that are often out of stock are more expensive now, and even regular groceries that used to cost around 100 kyat now cost twice as much,” she said.

“The prices are completely unaffordable.”

Myanmar’s ruling junta is fully responsible for the sharp climb in the prices of everyday commodities, said political analyst Aung Thu Nyein.

“Goods are being transported and distributed [inefficiently] in different places, and this has become a problem. That’s why prices are climbing out of control,” he said, adding, “Another problem is that people are panicking because of the spread of COVID-19.”

Flooding in areas of the country has also compounded the problem, he said.

“Floods have affected border trade as well, and if the flooding continues the situation will only get worse. The junta must do something to manage the situation,” he said.

In an economic update published Monday, the World Bank said Myanmar’s economy is expected to contract by about 18 percent in the current fiscal year (Oct. 2020-Sept. 2021), threatening to wipe out the progress the country had made over the past decade of increasingly civilian rule.

Reported by Soe San Aung. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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