March 6, 2013

Ethiopia: Teff Scarce, Prices Sky High

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 6:21 pm
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The current price of the staple crop, teff, varies from 1,400 Br to 1,650 Br a quintal depending on its colour; black or red teff being the cheapest.

Grain prices inEthiopia, in general, tend to slump at this time of year, weather permitting. This year’s weather has been the best in years.

As we have learned from frequent interviews broadcast through national television, farmers have never enjoyed better yields than the current harvest season.

What, then, is the cause for the untimely rise in the price of teff?

I recently met a young economist who had just returned fromEurope. He was sitting beside me at a wedding as we waited two long hours for the wedding party to arrive. After breaking the ice, we were soon chatting about general issues.

He introduced himself as a man who has recently returned home after a long stay inFrance, working on his doctorate. He was surprised, if not perplexed, to see so many people being subjected to more than a two hour wait, sitting next to a table richly laden with a variety of food. Most were keeping away from the food by sheer prudence, whilst yearning to devour everything on the table. But our mouths were too busy talking.

Even after the wedding party arrived, accompanied by a large number of people, quite a long time passed before we were led to the buffet table. The economist was no longer a stranger to me as he picked up a slice of red teff injera and unrolled on it onto his plate, in preparation for the wot(stew) of his choice. As he did so, he told me that he grew up in an area where red teff was abundant.

Red teff is baked and eaten as a variation; placed on the table as a mere alternative. Coming from abroad, he prefers the teff he is familiar to. I told him that more and more people are consuming teff because they are now able to afford it. Some are having teff for the first time.

Unlike the general assumption of many people, Europeans do not eat much bread. They feed on a variety of nourishing items of which bread is just an insignificant part.

The economist recalled a recent address by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to members of parliament (MPs), in which he said that the price of teff was increasing because more and more people are able to buy and consume it.


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