Easter product prices stagnate, meat rises

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Easter is one of the major holidays that Ethiopians celebrate. Most of the time a holiday marks an increase in market prices and a shortage of commodities. Now the political situation in the country is also contributing to the increase in price.
For Bizunesh Amare 47, a mother of three, the holiday is always special as her three children and four grandsons come home to visit. As she lives behind Amce Area, Shola Gebeya is the best and nearest place that she visits usually, regardless of the season.
She is negotiating with Derbi Girma who is there to sell chickens and eggs. Derbi has sold chickens and eggs for more than 10 years in the same market.
“I am afraid to bring more chickens to the market for many reasons a week before the holiday. The buyer is more interested two or three days before the holiday, chickens are more likely to die when there is rain so it would be a disaster to have many chickens at this time,” he said.
Derbi is showing a chicken to Bizunesh to sell chickens of her choice. The price he got was within the margin of what he has been selling his chickens for: 350-400 birr before Easter arrived.
“The market is not so cheery at this time. But the situation may change as the holiday gets closer,” Derbi says.
However, there are people like Bizunesh who visited Deribe, even though most people don’t want to buy a rooster early. It was neither an improvement nor a markdown of the price of chicken during the last Ethiopian Christmas. The increase is slight at only a 50 birr margin, Deribe says.
“The holiday market always increases; none of the items has decreased once the market hikes, the prices of butter, eggs, vegetables, red pepper powder and onions have shown a slight increase,” Bizunesh says.
Deribe also sells eggs and the price of an egg is 4 birr to 5 birr similar to the price during the last Christmas holiday, whereas food items have increased. Red onion is sold for an average price of 25 birr a kilo this holiday compared to 17 birr last New Year.
Most of the major spices used for the preparation of Doro Wot -chicken stew have also shown a slight increase.
For Fikerte Dejene who sells various spices in Shoalla Gebeya, the price of most spices is stable comparing to last holiday’s market. However, Cardamom has shown an increase and it sells up to 400 Br a kilo.
Another item garlic, for its part, was sold within the range of 60 birr to 65 birr a kilo, not showing an increase within the same period.
Berbere, a powder made from red pepper, did not show any price difference from the beginning of this year either. The price of a kilo of Berbere is 120 birr.
The edible oil market is faring better. A liter of locally processed edible oil is sold within a price range of 65 to 75 birr.
One of the many cattle dealers is Dereje Kinfu has been in the business for more than seven years. There is an increase in prices compared to all holidays this year. This time it is much exaggerated, according to him.
The season, being one where the fasting season ends, as usual, is inundated with demand for meat, merchants like Atlaw says. He sells cattle between a price range of 30, 000 birr and 70,000 birr in Kara cattle market. He and his friends brought the supply of cattle from different places. The popular sources are Harar, Borena, Wolaita, Guji, Wollega, Gonder and Bahir Dar.
Kara is one of the city’s four largest cattle markets. Found in the Yeka sub city, the market holds up to 1,000 oxen brought over from various regions. There are four cattle market areas in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia has one of the highest livestock populations in the world at about 54 million. This holiday will see more than 10,000 cattle and 20,000 goats and sheep sold in Addis Ababa, according to Solomon Bekele, marketing director of the Addis Ababa Trade Bureau.
“Early shopping gives me a better chance of buying a good product for a fair price,” Ferhiwot Debebe, a mother of two said.
“These days, the price may hike all of a sudden and I chose to buy early.”
Lamberet is another area where sheep and goats are available. Asnake Tsegaye, who went with his friends to visit this market, is wondering if he should buy sheep or goat.
“I still have not decided what to buy, it depends on the price whether I buy sheep or goat. Goats are always expensive.”
The price of goat at Lamberet market rise from 3,000 birr to 4,000birr.
To control and stabilize the price of basic commodities like, edible oil, flour, sugar and other commodities, the Addis Ababa Trade and Industry office established a task force to control illegal dealers as they are the main catalyst in the sector says Solomon Bekele.
“We have been trying to create a distribution line and market integration between regional suppliers and consumer protection shops,” he says. “We have made sure that prices won’t escalate, and we are supervising closely.”
At this scheme, the price of flour is 17 birr where as it is up to 25 birr in the market.
That the price hikes in food and food-related products are coming from the source and has been noticed by Shewaye Hailu, a retailer of butter and spices for the past decade at the famous Shola marketplace.
“We established the task force to make the price stable and made the holiday enjoyable for the inhabitants of the city,” Solomon says.