Doro Tera (chicken
market) in Mercato is buzzing with holiday shoppers.
Millions of chickens will be slaughtered in
Ethiopian households for the holiday, and many Addis
residents will pay a visit to this market in search
of plump, good looking roosters for a better price
than elsewhere. Many of these fowls are kept in
closed baskets, in which they have been transported
from rural areas.
Buyers make their
selections from the many roosters in baskets under
display. Zewdie Getaneh, a mother of eight in her
early 50s, was among the crowd that was pushing and
shoving at Doro Tera on Tuesday, September 8, 2009.
Shopping for roosters
is not an easy thing. Almost all buyers pass through
the irritating experience of hearing prices that
seem preposterous. Memories remain of days not so
long gone when one could buy at least 10 eggs for
one Birr and one good rooster for 10 Br. In a period
of two decades the price of an egg has gone up from
an average of 10 cents to 1.45 Br, an increase of
about 1,400pc. The price of roosters ballooned by
seven to 10 fold. One can hardly say the same for
the income of the people.
If it could have been
helped, no one would have given affordability a
passing thought during the holiday season. It would
seem that throats have to be slit, blood spilt and
as much meat as possible eaten. Huge crowds filled
all market places in Mercato, Shola, Saris and
It is nearly impossible
to manoeuvre through the jam-packed crowd without
your clothes and shoes getting filthy. However,
after the first few minutes, you will forget all
about your irritation as this experience becomes
even more annoying. You are being asked to pay 100
Br for a rooster and as you look around you see and
hear buyers and sellers haggling over prices,
exchanging money and insults.
The calling price for
the rooster that Zewdie was interested in was 80 Br.
As she made her decision, she had to think of her
family's holiday mood. There were not many of them
living with her now. Two are living abroad, and of
course they contribute to making life easier. Three
are already married and leading their own lives.
She seemed concerned
about the other three who remained with her as she
thought of the quantity of doro wot she needed to
make. She negotiated the price down by 10 Br and
went home with two roosters for 140 Br.
Her holiday shopping
included common commodities such as vegetables, teff
and wheat; her husband would buy the sheep. As long
as the whole population was affected by the price
changes, she said she would definitely not postpone
buying any of the things which her family required.
She wanted some responsible person to deal with the
worrying price increases. She was able to navigate
through the difficult times with the support of her
children living abroad, Zewdie said.
On Tuesday, September
8, 2009, ELFORA was selling its hens for slaughter
from trucks in various parts of the city at a fixed
price of 50 Br. If the price seemed cheaper, it is
because people are also making an unwanted choice.
Hens are, traditionally, for laying eggs. Nobody
wants to eat them, especially for holidays.
Now, with the rising
costs and the mind-set of getting by, eating hens is
a kind of lifestyle change that has been taking
place over the past decade. ELFORA is also selling
its eggs for 1.45 Br apiece.
The Ethiopian doro wot
requires plenty of chopped onions to spice it up. On
Tuesday, September 8, Gashgish Yassin, a 45 year old
trader at the Shola market [second only to Mercato
in size and content] was selling her onions at seven
Birr per kilo. Gashgish also sold three types of
butter: Sheno lega, the best quality, went for 100
Br per kilogram, while the lega and mekakelegna were
sold for 85 and 75Br, respectively.
But traders claim that
they were not making the kind of sale one would
expect during holiday season. In the Bereta Beret
area near the Kotebe Metal Factory in Yeka District,
there is a large open field serving as livestock
Mohamed Gebeyehu, 32, a
sheep and goat trader, had been standing there the
whole day with his livestock, and did not seem to be
in good mood.
"Right now, I am
finding it hard to find any buyers for both the
sheep and goats," he said, "It seems like people
just come to ask prices."
He linked his failure
to make sales to what he heard on the media about
the falling value of the currency.
"I think it is because
the money has become worthless," he said.
The calling price for
sheep could go as high up as 1,200 Br, and the
traders may not give in to negotiations as much as
they would during non-holiday time.
People do not
frequently slaughter sheep and goats, preferring to
go butchers' shops to buy their preferred quantity
of meat. This has led to a lack of familiarity of
the livestock market by the public, giving the
advantage to traders of livestock. By calling out
ridiculously high prices they negotiate for a lower
price which is still too expensive.
A few weeks ago, sheep
with a calling price of 800 Br in the Shola market
were sold for as little as 350 Br. With everybody
trying to buy now, the demand side surplus enables
the traders to still be able to sell at higher
Livestock from nearby
areas are marched all the way to the market, while
those traders from areas further out [such as Debre
Birhan] have to lease Isuzu trucks, the cost of
which adds to the price of the animals. One trader
said that 65 to 75 sheep and goats would be packed
in one truck. They ferry them from as far away as
Harar, Wollayita, Jimma, and Dessie. They say they
could pay as high as 6,000 to 9,000 Br for a truck
depending on distance and ease of access of the
villages they go to.
This time, they say
they are not happy with what they are seeing in the
market. Moges Haile is a 51 year old livestock
trader who has been in the business for 20 years. He
sells his animals in the fenced Kara-Kotobe
livestock market in Yeka district, and he is worried
and confused. He had only been entertaining price
requests from people who would not buy anything he
said, on Tuesday.
"There is nothing yet,"
he said. "I hope to find buyers over the next two
He has fattened bulls
that could fetch in an average of 9,000 Br and
smaller ones that could sell for as little as 2,000
Br. The 9,000 Br is lower than the 12,000 Br price
being called for larger bulls. He believes that the
market is hit by problems related to the foreign
"There are people who
could be potential buyers," he said, "but right now
we are just standing inside the fence with our
As people prepare to go
experience the market and make their purchases, the
expense of eggs, chicken, sheep, goats, cattle and
butter all go up in prices. For many buyers, the
price increase creates a shock in the week prior the
holiday, becoming a hot topic of conversation … as
it always does.
Through the daunting
hike in expense, people do their best to create the
holiday mood in their houses. There are, of course,
many who give in under the burden of getting by and
are forced to have 'just another day' on New Year's
Zewdie, who appears
determined to buy all the things her family would
need for the holiday, feels that people should
bravely face their financial problems and make the
best of New Year's Day.