A staple vegetable's price is ringing alarm bells. Onion prices have skyrocketed, with a kilo costing up to 120 Br on certain days. For many Ethiopians, this surge reflects larger economic woes plaguing the economy. Purpose Black, a two-year-old company, is attempting to address the situation by bundling five kilos of onions with other goods for 500 Br at its farm-to-fork outlets. However, the company's marketing strategies are not without controversy. While some consumers see it as a helpful offer responding to rising costs, others feel pressured into buying items they do not need. Further complicating the issue, Addis Abeba Trade Bureau officials accuse the company of potentially misleading practices.

The underlying reasons for the onion price hike are multiple. Onions are deeply ingrained in the cuisine. Historically, Ethiopia relied on imports from neighbouring Sudan when domestic supplies suffered. However, the recent freezing of imports from there, combined with internal disruptions, has offset this balance. The "Onion-Belt" in the Oromia Regional State, historically the primary source of onion cultivation, is experiencing a supply shock despite a significant land area dedicated to this crop. Government strategies may also be exacerbating the supply problem. Ministry of Agriculture experts attribute the shortfall in production to a broader agricultural shift backed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed: a push towards wheat production. This shift, particularly in major vegetable-producing areas, has significantly disrupted the supply chain.

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PUBLISHED ON Sep 30,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1222]

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