News / Africa

Ethiopian Food Prices Up Nearly 50 Percent

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.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid