Consumers are no strangers to sharp increases in the prices of goods and services, considering the consistent inflationary pressure in the economy. Nonetheless, not many were prepared onions, usually stable and cheap, would also be a victim at such a fast pace. Lately, the vegetable used to prepare nearly all traditional cuisine was selling for up to 60 Br a kilo, twice its cost from two weeks ago and right before the New Year holiday.

More surprising has been that onions had a relatively good harvest in the past year, with yields increasing by 25pc on the 39,000ht of land used for farming the vegetable. Authorities and market insiders attribute the sudden price rise to a combination of factors, including the interruptions of imports from Sudan. Heavy rainfalls in Meqi, a town in the Oromia Regional State, one of the rift valley areas where Addis Abeba sources much of its onions, were not suitable for harvest. Experts see this as a manifestation of two factors that have long ailed the agricultural sector - poor farming techniques and lack of access to market information. This is where farmers fail to anticipate demand and end up over- or underproducing in a given season. There is some evidence to give credence to this theory as the country had a surplus a few months ago that saw a kilogram of onions selling for four Birr. A large amount of onion was dumped in the southern part of the country for lack of demand.

The authorities hasten to bring prices down, pinning their hopes on additional sourcing from Somali Regional State and onion farms in Meqi getting back into shape by next month.

You can read the full story    here    

PUBLISHED ON Sep 26,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1117]

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