Residents of Pujehun are facing a growing crisis as the daily prices of essential food items continue to climb in the local market.

Jennifer Massaquoi, a regular shopper at the Pujehun Center market, expressed her frustration with the situation. “The prices of basic things like rice, cooking oil, salt, and sugar are just going up and up,” she said. “It’s getting harder and harder for families to put food on the table.”

The cost of a cup of rice has reached Le 7, while a pint of vegetable oil now sells for Le 15. Even locally sourced products like salt (Le 5 per cup) and sugar (Le 10 per cup) are experiencing significant price hikes.

Mamie Jajuah, a trader at the market, explained that the rising prices are not entirely within the control of local vendors. “It’s not just us raising prices,” she said. “We have to pay much more to get these goods from bigger cities like Bo, Kenema, and Freetown.”

Jajuah elaborated on the transportation and procurement costs that eat into their profits, sometimes resulting in losses. For instance, traders pay Le 900 per 50kg bag of rice, Le 650 per large container of vegetable oil, Le 700 for a small bag of sugar (Le 1500 for a large bag), and Le 125 per bag of salt.

Ibharim B Swaray, Chairman of the Pujehun District Civil Society Organization, emphasized the urgency of addressing the issue. “The government needs to step in and control these rising prices,” he said. “Sellers are setting arbitrary prices, making it very difficult for people to afford food.”

Swaray called for effective price control mechanisms to ensure that essential food items remain affordable and accessible for all members of the Pujehun community. The escalating cost of food is a pressing concern that demands immediate attention to alleviate the economic hardship faced by the people of Pujehun.