The food items used in the preparation of a traditional Easter feast
were in highest demand. As a result, the prices of
onions, garlic, butter, oil, and meat showed varying
degrees of increase over their prices of the
A mix of spices, used in preparing butter and doro wot, the popular
chicken dish common in most households around
holidays, showed a significant price increase from
90 Br per kilogramme the week before to 125 Br for a
kilogramme last week.
While prices have seen an increase from one week to the other, they
often skyrocket spurred by last minute shopping, on
the eve and the day of the holiday. Some consumers
have acquired the habit of trying to avoid this
Yeahute Belete, 88, a retired grandfather of three, went shopping at
Shola on Monday. For him, the weekend was not only
the breaking of his fast on Sunday, April 24, but he
would also celebrate his 89th birthday the following
Yeahute and Zayide Asgedom, his wife of 47 years, receive strong
financial support from his two daughters living
abroad (one is in Sweden and the other in Canada).
He has been a regular customer of Shola market since
his wife was paralysed eight years ago. He is in
charge of not only shopping for the holiday but also
for everyday groceries.
For Easter, he bought five kilogrammes of fresh Sheno butter from his
long-time supplier, Birtukan Walelegen. Her asking
price was 130 Br per kilogramme, the highest price
any trader at the market charged.
Yeahute tried to bargain with her to lower the price, reminding her
that during Christmas he paid only 90 Br for a
kilogramme. However, he had to compete with the loud
Aster Aweke music blaring from the speakers of the
music shop next to Birtukuan’s to make himself
heard. Eventually, she relented and gave in to a
small discount of two Birr per kilogramme.
Along with the butter, Yeahute bought a chicken, as well as onions,
garlic, and eggs to prepare doro wot.
A live chicken on Monday at Shola could cost anything between 60 Br and
100 Br, depending on the animal’s size, Live
yeferenge chickens were sold for 65 Br apiece by
Elfora Agro Industry from the company’s pickups
around Mexico and Lam Beret areas, while skinned
yehabesha chickens cost 84.56 Br per kilogramme at
Bambis Supermarket, which charges 44 Br for a
yehabesah chicken, which are not sold by weight.
Half a century ago, when fuel prices and inflation were low, and the
purchasing power of the Birr was much higher than it
is today, Tiruworke Beyene, 70, could buy five hens
for a total of 50 cents. She also recalled that one
kilogramme of butter and one litre of oil each cost
three Birr in Gonder Town, in 1961.
Kara Kore neighbours and long-time
friends, Tiruwork Beyene (centre) and Mulunesh
Walelegn, haggle over the worthiness of the cocks
with a hopeful Tadesse Haile, chicken vendor for 10
years. He claims that this year’s consumer has far
less purchasing power in comparison to last year’s.
By contrast, noug oil cost 33 Br per litre three weeks ago. This price
increased to 41 Br two weeks ago, and by the
beginning of last week, the price stood at 50 Br per
litre at Shola and Merkato markets. At the same
markets, sesame oil cost 33 Br per litre three weeks
ago, and by last week the price had increased to 42
Br per litre.
Aside from oil, the main ingredient in the preparation of doro wot is
The price of yeferenge onions has significantly decreased from seven
Birr the week before to 4.50 Br per kilogramme while
the price of locally grown habesha onions increased
from eight Birr the week before to 10 Br per
However, the habesha onion is preferred for its taste and ability to
keep wot viscous.
In Atekilt Terra, a marketplace located in Piazza, Arada District,
yeferenge onions cost 2.30 Br per kilogramme from
wholesalers selling from the backs of Isuzu trucks.
The drawback of the low price was that shoppers
cannot purchase less than five kilogrammes.
The onions cost 2.50 Br per kilogramme from retailers in the same
market while the price of garlic ranged from 38 Br
per kilogramme to 42 Br per kilogramme, depending on
An onion seller, Lema Shimeles, has been working in Merkato for the
past 30 years, and attributed the low prices of
onions to the abundance in the market. She bought
her 100ql supply for 35,000 Br from a farmer in
Zewai Town, Oromia Regional State.
Merkato provided most of the holiday food items at up to five Birr less
than Atekilt Terra and Shola.
The prices differed mostly due to transportation costs incurred by the
traders bring the goods from the wholesaler,
With the exception of onions and eggs, which showed a price increase of
only 25 cents over its price of 1.40 Br the week
before, the prices of everything Yeahute bought at
Shola was significantly higher than the week before.
Even the price of garlic increased significantly
from 36 Br per kilogramme the week before to 48 Br
However, shoppers with different incomes still bought the items
required for an Easter feast.
Tsegerda Asegedom, a single mother of two, earns her living by washing
clothes around the neighbourhood in Bole District
where she lives. With an average monthly income of
400 Br, she bought all the food items needed to
prepare the holiday meal for 300 Br at Shola.
After purchasing a kilogramme of sheno butter, three kilogrammes of
onions, half a kilogramme of garlic, and two
chickens she had only 100 Br left for the remainder
of the month to cover the living expenses of her
family, for whom she is solely responsible.
“I spent so much on the Easter celebration, despite the knowledge that
I will suffer trying to feed my family until I next
get paid, but it is the custom and all my neighbours
are doing likewise,” Tsegerda told Fortune while
pushing down the live chickens trying to escape from
her grocery bag.
Aside from chicken, other meat is also popular with which to break the
fasting period over Easter.
Mutton and lamb, eaten roasted or stewed, is another prominent
ingredient of the Easter feast. As a result, the
prices of sheep and goats have shown an average
increase of 100 Br per animal since the previous
week. This is a less of an increase than the price
hike of approximately 500 Br seen over the New Year
and Christmas celebrations, in January 2011.
The Addis Abeba Abattoirs Enterprise (AAAE) sells a sheep at 46 Br per
kilogramme to amount to around 460 Br for a sheep,
which is delivered to the customer’s house following
processing at the abattoir for a price of 15 Br or
30 Br, depending on the size of the animal.
The enterprise has an estimated supply of 800 sheep to contribute
towards meeting the increased demand in the market
during the holidays, according to Yosef Derissa,
head of information and communications for the AAAE.
Geremew Desse, a sheep and goat seller at Shola market, charges between
500 Br and 2,650 Br for a sheep and up to 2,800 Br
for a goat, depending on the size of the animal. He
was optimistic that he would attract more customers
as the weekend drew near, as that is usually the
case, especially on the eve of the breaking of the
He attributed the high prices, compared to the holiday season of
January 2011, to the price hike in fuel and
transporting the animals to the city.
However, the beef market should face no such phenomenon as a price cap
was imposed on beef on January 6, restricting the
sale of one kilogramme of meat to 52 Br.
The meat is available at even lower prices in Kara Area, located close
to the outskirts of the capital. The price of an ox
and calf in this area range between 15,000 Br and to
6,000 Br, respectively, depending on the size of the
Most of the customers buy the meat by weight, instead of purchasing the
entire live animal, because the meat spoils easily
if not consumed soon after the slaughter.
These vendors, most of whom offered the cattle from their own herds,
sold a kilogramme of beef at a cost of 40 Br or
It might even drop as low as 35 Br, depending on demand from customers,
according to Aseged Dalicha, a salesman in one of
Tsegerda was happy to hear this as she could afford to buy a kilogramme
of beef at these prices, and it would make her
holiday celebration feast complete, she said.
One the other hand, the holiday season is not such a joyous occasion
Kirubel Sieferaw, 31, a web designer for a computer software company,
is feeling sombre this Easter, after losing his
mother in a car accident on Christmas Day, January
7, 2001. Haunted by the horrifying accident, the
only child who had also lost his father prior to the
death of his mother, had in the past preferred to
forego the festivities.
“Although my friends would invite me to their homes, I never went,” he
told Fortune. “I think this year I will try to move
on and celebrate Easter at my friend’s house with
It remained to be seen exactly how the market would behave towards the
end of last week, as this would determine whether a
seller like Geremew broke even or made a killing.
However, Yeahute had no plans to find out, as his
holiday shopping had been completed in advance, and
despite the increased prices he found something to
appreciate about his holiday shopping experience.
“As I do the shopping with the maid instead of my wife, I enjoy it
because afterwards I can have a drink of araqe or
tej,” he confided to Fortune.