Egypt’s police are stepping in to fight a potato shortage that has caused prices for the staple to soar beyond the reach of many at a time when Egyptians are struggling with steadily rising food costs.
Pro-government newspapers and TV stations have been publicizing raids on warehouses where authorities say businessmen are hoarding potatoes to try to drive up prices. The raids have showcased the lengths to which authorities are willing to go to prevent popular discontent from boiling over as they impose a raft of austerity measures intended to reform the economy.
Many farmers appear to have avoided planting potatoes this year because their previous harvest was sold at a loss due to higher production costs. Before the shortage, a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of potatoes cost as little as 11 cents, which then rocketed to up to 84 cents at the peak of the shortage last week.