Despite contrary data food prices continue climb

Since mid June 2012 prices of food items such as edible oil, butter, Teff, has been rising steadily. However, the data released in early July by Central Statistical Agency (CSA) indicated that the country’s inflation has gone down to 20.9 percent from 25.5 in the previous month. The reason for this was mainly due to easing food prices, according to CSA. The Agency further said that the inflation decline in June was for the fourth straight month. This appeared to be good news.

However the reality on the ground is that food prices are hitting common people hard on a daily basis. 

Teff has been steadily climbing from 1,600 per quintal (100kg) a month ago to 1,850 birr now. This increase occurred regardless of quality. White Teff, or Magna rose to 1,850 birr while middle quality Teff, Sergegna, was up to 1,750 birr. Wheat has gone up to 1, 350 birr for 100kg from 1,000 birr in just two months.  But the government subsidized wheat is not available at the local cooperative shops. When it is available the price per quintal is less than 700 birr. Maize and sorghum prices rose equal to the market price of wheat. The corn sold on the streets has doubled in price compared to last year this time. Now a single piece of corn is sold at four birr.

Sugar remains at the constant government set price of 14 birr and 50 cents. When sugar was scarce on the market some two months ago, it pushed the price high on the black market, up to 20 birr. But now it is abundantly available.

In July, chilly or green pepper touched the 25 birr per kilo mark. Due to the fasting season, in March and April the price of chilly hit a record 30 birr per kilo.

Locally produced edible oil went up from 40 birr per litre a month ago to between 46 and 60 birr. At Shola market, the oil price per litre was 40 birr while the product of the Abuare Edible Oil Mill was 55 birr per litre last month. The reason for the price rise is not known. Imported oil prices vary between 25 birr to 70 birr per litre. However they are more available than before.

Depending on the quality, butter has risen to 170 birr per kilo.  It went up dramatically after the Easter holiday three months ago when it was 150 birr per kilo.

Onions are 13 birr per kilo, which is much higher than their average price of 9 birr per kilo a month ago. Around Easter onions were 3 birr per kilo.

Only coffee has gone down in price dropping 10 birr to 90 birr per kg.

The CSA report suggests that the food inflation rate slowed to 21.5 percent in June, 2012 from 29.2 percent two months earlier. Despite the eight percent inflation reduction in the last two months the price of food in restaurants and cafés has been rising continuously.

In spite of reports that inflation is decreasing it does not seem to be the case with food.