Ethiopian food prices up nearly 50 percent (VOA)

August 9th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

Ethiopians awoke Tuesday to news that food prices had increased nearly 50 percent over the past year. They didn’t need to be told. Even middle-class Ethiopians are finding it more difficult to feed their families.

Ethiopia’s annual inflation rate jumped to nearly 40 percent in July. The Central Statistics Agency says food prices, which comprise more than half the Consumer Price Index, were up 47.4 percent from a year ago.

In local markets, faces were glum, but few were willing to talk about their condition. One shopper, who gave his name as Geremew, simply held up the thick wad of birr, the Ethiopian currency, that he was holding as he waited to pay for a small basket of food.

Mansour Mohammed, a grocer in central Addis Ababa, says prices of essentials such as cooking oil have risen much more than the average, forcing consumers to switch to cheaper alternatives. “People say that’s expensive. Once you [could] buy vegetable oil 20 birr, [approx.$1.25] now it’s 60 birr ($3.75). It’s almost 200 percent increase. But you can change. Instead of vegetable oil you can use palm oil,” he said.

The statistics agency says transportation costs and housing were up more than 40 percent during the past year. The price of a liter of gasoline stood at 21 birr this week, a massive increase despite government promises to keep inflation in single-digit territory.

When prices began to shoot skyward earlier this year, the government imposed price controls on a number of items and began selling sugar and cooking oil directly to consumers. But the controls led to shortages, and were dropped after infuriating shop owners and failing to ease inflationary pressure.

While the price caps were in place, shopkeepers were accused of keeping goods off the market until prices rose. But after the controls were removed, shortages continued and prices surged.

Government economists say the inflation rate is being driven largely by the drought that is crippling food production in parts of the Horn of Africa. But others, such as opposition leader and former World Bank director Bulcha Demeksa, says factors such as government land policy and corruption are just as much to blame.

“The farmers are not producing enough. There is commotion in the agriculture sector. Commotion meaning the farmer’s mind is not at rest. He is not even sure whether the local officials are going to take his particular plot or not. These are people who take a small bribe and take land from one and give it to the other, and [so] people do not produce as much. The population is increasing; production is not increasing because of government land policy,” Bulcha said.

Government statistics indicate more than 13 million of Ethiopia’s 80 million people will receive some sort of nutritional assistance this year. About 4.5 million are in urgent need of help, and emergency food stocks are stretched by the arrival of an additional 150,000 refugees from famine-stricken Somalia.

Despite the difficulties, the government is predicting economic growth of 11 percent this year. The International Monetary Fund says inflation troubles are likely to cut that figure by half.

  1. BIYE
    | #1

    Just look at what Bulcha Demeksa says ”……farmer’s mind is not at rest. He is not even sure whether the local officials are going to take his particular plot or not. These are people who take a small bribe and take land from one and give it to the other, and [so] people do not produce as much. The population is increasing; production is not increasing because of government land policy,” Bulcha said.”

    that is what the woyanes are doing to the people. Using land as a weapon, intimidating peasants, taking their land at will and throwing people into poverty. Land is a commodity to the woyane, which they can sell, give it to who they like, sell it to who ever offers them cash.

    the woyane continue to beg for food from the UN to feed the hungry while they keep uprooting peasants from their land and sell their land. Woyane gets the cash and the people are fed at no cost to the ethno-fascist woyane. How cruel is that?

  2. Anonymous
    | #2

    Let me say that or this to you, ……….do you expect me to say any thing! Besides I have just said enough, who ever you
    Call me. Speaking of who you call me I can say a lot or I can say nothing. But God, are you confused? I am. I love God.
    And I love being me GIGI. Does any body have peroblem with that? If he/she does a problem with that may be that is why the world is a bit of or a Lott of problematic. Don’t call me selfish on that one. I just happen to love my self as much
    Some you individuals do. COMPRENDO? And I so much Love God and my Family and country, continent and the world
    But mostly GOD. And if some of you are serpides why I love God. First of all he is my creater and don’t be surprised if
    Some body els loves God us much as you do. Trust me any of this problem can not come with out him loving us all and cared for us wether we are thank full of that or not. The thing is, we can’t do with out him wether we like it or on. Some of the world history is bad enough not even to think that there is life with out him, there was never and there won’t be to be honest. Not that it is such thing I can say for sure in front of God and every body all I have is my believe in God as
    most people that believes in God. And you know what? There is God and there is Jesuss and the wholly spirit.

    People, some time people get Make me… I was going to say some thing. You know what. I have learned to love
    Or care for for my self. To a point that you are so me. If you don’t take that my cinicalisem as usual. Or Am I that of my self? Wether you call me David Solomon or Ingland America Arab India Africa, What ever great and selfish I am that is?
    To begin with the problem can come because some body thinking of me some body out of this planet. Not that ………I meant to say I ask any of it. You to day every body is trying to sell it self. As if there was no selevory in the past so I thought why not???…….DO ????????????? NO THANKS! OR YOU ARE VERY WELLCOME OR WHATEVER IT IS? I LOVE YOU ALL! AND I AM KIND OF EVERY BODY? WETHER YOU LOVE ME OR HATE ME FOR THAT. What ever it is not some thing I did. What ever love or hate in the mix. But how ever it won’t Change that I love you and God.
    Wether even you love me or not. But I know that God loves me just like he loves you.

  3. Sheger
    | #3

    Telat eyinu yifer andim ayismagne.

    Man’nat beelu man yeDawit (David) lige negne.

    Ande sile …

    Cale egezare beker,, man wodag man atirafy alegne.

  4. Anonymous
    | #4

    Bulcha: at your age you should tell the truth but nothing the truth; the main reasons much of Ethiopians are facing many challenges in their day-today life is, 1- weyanes aiga jungle economic policies, 2- weyanes aiga jungle democracy, 3- weyanes aiga jungle diplomacy, 4- weyanes aiga jungle leaders, and 5- weyanes aiga jungle products. Ethiopia deserves well prepared, informed, educated, and bright leaders; NOT THE PROTOTYPE AIGA JUNGLE PRODUCTS LIKE MELES AND HIS BOSS BEREKET SIMON.

  5. Action is better than words
    | #5

    Even foreign enemies wouldn’t do what the TPLF regime is doing to Ethiopians. I won’t even start to understand, why in God’s name, especially, people who claim to believe in the mercy and kindness of God, follow and support an evil man as Meles that is responsible for the deaths of so many Ethiopians, Eritreans and Somalis. Who also sucks the sweat, tears and blood of poor Ethiopian Tax Payers. Muslims brothers and sisters praying five times a day and Christian brothers and sisters reading the Bible everyday and going to Church two or three times a week is not enough, we all have the responsibility to fight for what is right and be the voice for the voiceless oppressed poor Ethiopians.

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