Sugar Shortage Grips Tunisia Amid Ramadan Season

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The sugar shortage has impacted the North African nation of Tunisia, diminishing the Ramadan spirit in this predominantly Muslim country.

In the heart of downtown Tunis, numerous customers wait patiently in a lengthy line stretching from a supermarket, all eager to secure sugar—a vital component for the impending conclusion of Ramadan festivities, just eight days away.

The essential ingredient for the customary sweets enjoyed to commemorate the end of the Muslim holy month is currently restricted to one to two kilograms per customer per week.

"I never imagined we'd see queues in Tunisia just to buy sugar," remarked fifty-eight-year-old Lamia Bouraoui.

As with other essential food items in Tunisia, sugar receives state subsidies.

However, the shortage of funds in the North African country's public coffers has led to scarcity in essentials like flour, semolina, and sugar since late 2022.

During the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan, families across North Africa prepare abundant sweets and pastries that typically last for days.

Lamenting the lack of sugar, Bouraoui remarked, "We are deprived of this pleasure this year."

To maximize their sugar rations, some, like 40-year-old Sami, queue with family members to ensure their loved ones can enjoy an adequate supply.

"One day we stand in line for flour, another for semolina, and another for sugar," he remarked.

The scarcity has also hit bakeries hard.

"Every aspect of our work relies on sugar," explained Chokri Bouajila, a bakery worker in Tunis, speaking to AFP.

"Without sugar, we're unable to produce anything."

At the shopping center, the queue continues to lengthen.

"I've been here for the past 35 minutes," remarked Hassna, a 40-year-old customer waiting in line for sugar.

"Why are we going through all this? How did we get here?"

"Let us express gratitude to God," a nearby man responded, "we are in a better situation than our brothers in Gaza, who are suffering from hunger."

However, some individuals aim to navigate the country's latest challenge optimistically.

Nayla, a shopper navigating the mall, expressed her intention to alter her habits rather than queue for sugar, noting its health implications.

"I've grown accustomed to bitter coffee," she remarked, unfazed.