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A new scheme that will significantly increase the price of salt on the market is in the works, as it requires salt manufacturers to import the supplementary mineral, potassium iodate, to produce iodized salt, Capital learnt.
Currently, iodised salt producers and suppliers to the local market, process the raw material with the mineral potassium iodate, supplied by donors, mainly UNICEF via the Ministry of Health (MoH) at a reduced price. Based on the new scheme, however, producers are to import the mineral themselves.
Salt producers and relevant government authorities recently discussed the scheme which is to be implemented in the near future.
According to experts, with the new scheme the price of salt will double because the price of potassium iodate has significantly increased on the international market. “Currently, our cost is only 1.87 birr to iodise a quintal of salt because it is subsidised,” a salt producer informed Capital.
According to experts, potassium iodate used to be sold at USD 20 per kg, but today the price on the international market has shot up more than two fold, reaching USD 64.
Our sources at the Ministry of Trade (MoT) said that the two parties, producers and MoT, are in negotiations on the maximum price for salt. “We held discussions with the relevant government ministries on the price of salt which will increase significantly because of the cost of potassium iodate,” producers said.
Today, some 420 salt producers feed the market from the source located in Afdera, Afar Regional state and from the Somali Regional state where the price of the product is now 130 birr per quintal. The retail price of non-powdered iodised salt in the central part of the country is about 4 birr per kg, while table salt is up by three fold.
According to producers, they estimate that the price of iodised raw salt will increase up to 230 birr per quintal at the source. Meanwhile, producers are going to import their own potassium iodate for the production of iodized salt in the coming two months, Capital learnt.
Sources at MoT indicated that the price increment is not only related to the mineral issue, but salt producers have also been complaining about the low price that salt commands on the local market for years. “They had asked several times for price adjustment to no avail.” Presently, the issue is being evaluated by the Ministry of Trade led by state minister Ali Siraj, and MoH that is involved it is related to health issues.