With the approach of spring, Kyrgyzstan’s traditional season for airing public grievances, food prices are skyrocketing. Many now fear that rapid inflation could spark fresh instability and street protests. While some officials want to impose price controls, economists warn that such action could foster shortages.
Though caused by factors beyond Bishkek’s control, such as a drought in Russia, a leading wheat supplier, and a bad harvest in Kyrgyzstan last year brought on by political and social instability, the rise in prices is presenting a formidable challenge for Kyrgyzstan’s shaky coalition government. The price of wheat has jumped 54 percent since last June, according to the World Bank. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has identified Kyrgyzstan as one of the countries most burdened by the price hikes.
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Cholpon Orozobekova is a Kyrgyz freelance journalist. She was formerly the editor-in-chief of De Facto, an independent newspaper in Bishkek.