Sunday has become a sought-after market day for residents of Addis Abeba. If they venture into the areas of Mexico, Megenagna, Qality, Jemo or Piassa, they are bound to run into lively marketplaces where food staples can be bought at much lower prices than offered at regular retailers. They could buy quantities of potato for half the price, or onions for two-thirds and a bag of spaghetti 20pc cheaper than other stores. This is no small respite for consumers in an economy where annual food inflation hit 40.7pc last month.

There are 148 cooperatives in the capital, with many selling at these markets owing to the joint initiative by Addis Abeba’s Trade Bureau and Cooperative Agency. Consumers have responded with enthusiasm and do not seem to miss the intermediaries that connect them to the producers. Supply chain problems are one of the factors driving prices up for consumers, an issue the city administration is attempting to address. City officials hope to continue the markets, encouraged by the excitement from both consumers and traders. They want to add 10 more locations to the list and make grocery shopping a Sunday ritual. They plan to set them up in permanent places where the markets can be more accessible.

Economists that closely follow the market see the initiative as an encouraging start to stabilise prices. But they concede inflation is much more an issue of productivity than caused by dysfunctional supply chains. The more produce available, the less likely they are to be manipulated by intermediaries, they argue. Relieved consumers, meanwhile, want city officials to continue installing more of the weekend markets.

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PUBLISHED ON Nov 27,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1126]

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