Addis Ababa – 02/05/2008 Panapress –High food prices and overall inflation have exacerbated the food security problem here, according to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Quoting UN agencies, including the World Food Programme, OCHA reported this week the high prices have significantly affected the purchasing power of Ethiopia’s urban poor, agriculturalists, pastoralists, and agro-pastoralists that depend on the market.
According to the central statistics authority, country-level general food inflation has reached 29.6 per cent.
Meanwhile, the government was taking measures to stabilise food prices, including lifting of value-added and turnover taxes on food items.
In addition, it distributed subsidised wheat to some 800,000 needy households in major urban areas.
In the capital, Addis Ababa, traders and buyers at the central Merkato market told PANA Friday that a 100kg bag of the staple teff was selling at 625 Birr on average, up from 300 Birr a few months ago.
The price of local chicken has shot up from 40 Birr to 90 Birr while a medium size sheep goes for 600 Birr, large sheep fetches 1,000 Birr and the average price of beef is now 40 Birr per kilo.
“We are in a desperate situation. We don’t know what has happened in this country. But where else can we go,” said Serkalem Molla, a housewife, who was buying vegetables at the market.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said early this week his government had no other urgent agenda than to bring down the sky-rocketing cost of living in the country.
Speaking at a meeting of trade union representatives, Meles said the government would keep on subsidising major food items as part of its bid to address the problem.
Acknowledging that on its own the government could not tame prices, Meles called for public support to check the rising cost of living in the country.