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Uganda’s trademark ‘Rolex’ chapati becomes smaller as food shortages caused by the Russian-Ukraine war mount

The popular wrap 'Rolex' of Uganda has become smaller in size and filling due to shortage and increase in price of wheat and cooking oil (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@UNDPUganda)

The reverberations of the Russia-Ukraine war which started on February 20 can be felt as far away as Uganda which is about 8,000 kilometres away! This is evident from the fact that the African nation’s favourite and popular food Rolex — short for rolled eggs – which is a freshly prepared chapati wrapping a vegetable and egg omelette is neither filling nor nourishing any more.

Reporting this in qz.com, the article quoted a street vendor, Farouk Kiyaga, who informed that several of his customers had expressed their dismay over how Uganda’s darling diet has reduced both in size and taste due to increase in the price of cooking oil and wheat.

Ubiquitous is what best describes the Rolex sellers in Uganda. It is a common sight in this landlocked East African country’s markets and streets to have at least one seller of these rotis. Ready with the hot plate fired with firewood or charcoal, the vendor makes them using ingredients like onion, tomatoes and cabbage. They are priced between 1,000 and 2,000 Ugandan shillings or Rs.10 to 40.

The raging Russia-Ukraine conflict has brought exports by these warring nations to a halt. Both account for 26 per cent of wheat and 80 per cent sunflower oil exports in the world, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation. That’s not all as consumption and cost of grains, dairy products and meat too have jumped – making them dearer for the economically weaker sections of the society.

Uganda is vulnerable because it is among 50 nations that are dependent on Russian and Ukrainian for import of wheat. In fact, more than 50 per cent of its imports of wheat comes from the two nations. Scarcity of this vital grain is bound to hit those preparing Rolex as wheat and cooking oil is essential for this dish.

Rolling the goodness of vegetables and egg in chapati (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@ntvuganda)

Unable to bear the rising cost of the basic elements of Rolex, the sellers have resorted to cutting down the size and stuffing – with customers feeling the pinch.

Commenting on this qz.com quotes Zziwa Fred – a fast-food businessman located in Wakiso district in central Uganda. “I can’t increase the price of the Rolex, but I have reduced its size because my customers will not buy my snacks, they say they don’t have the money.”

Common folks like workers and students too are vocal about the prevailing state of their favourite food Rolex. Many have opted for alternative items like porridge while others are making good with reduced size.

The chapati which is used as a base for Rolex was introduced in east Africa by Indians when they arrived there as traders and later as settlers. Besides being a wrap, it can be used as a scoop for several dishes and being inexpensive, easy to make and providing vital nutrients it is very popular.

The Government responding to the scarcity of food grains and oil has stepped in to support wheat, corn, vegetable, sunflower and soyabean growers to increase availability of these essential goods.

Meanwhile, both lovers of Rolex and its makers are hoping prices would dip making their snack as good as it was!

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