Kalkidan Assefa is in her twenties and lives in the Gotera area of Addis Ababa. She never wants to miss injera from her daily meal but finds the cost of buying it is unaffordable and increasing from time to time. “I can not pass a day without eating injera and it is becoming very difficult to pay for,” she says. “I don’t know how long we live this way.”
It is not only buyers who worry about the price hike. Most sellers like Almaz Gebeyew, who makes her living by selling the Injera in the Ethiopian capital, are concerned about the frequent increase in the price of teff, an ancient grain from the highlands and a major ingredient of injera.
Mainly made of teff, injera is known as the main dish of Ethiopia. There are largely three types of teff locally called Tikur, Sergegna, and Magna; differing in quality and color, also the price varies.
“If the price of teff continues to increase dramatically, I will probably stop selling injera” Almaz adds, “it does not make a profit if it continues like this,” she told to Addis Zeybe.
Over the past two years, the price of teff, on average, has become expensive.
Following the increase in the price of teff, the price of injera has also become higher- cost over the past two months. One piece of injera, which was sold between seven to eight Birr, now costs more than 10 Birr in Addis Ababa and other regional cities like Gondar, Adama, and Hawassa. Similarly in Asosa, Dire Dawa, and Kebri Dahar, the price of injera increased from 7 Birr to 12 Birr in just a few days.
In the capital, Addis Ababa, the price of teff has increased on average by more than 10 Birr per 1 kg since November. More than 100 Kg of teff was sold to 4,500 Birr but it has now increased to 5,600 Birr, Addis Zeybe confirmed after a visit to market places.
As most of the sellers agree, the price has changed dramatically in just a few months. A growing number of brokers who are involved in the transaction of teff are responsible for the price rise over the months, most of the sellers argue.
It seems that the recent climb in the price of teff is nationwide. Hawassa and Gondar seem to have relieved relatively, where the price increased by 300 Birr.
The price of 100 Kg of teff was between 4700 and 4100 Birr in November. Now it is sold for 5000 and 5500 Birr respectively. The same price hike has been observed in Dire Dawa, another town in the eastern part of Ethiopia, where the price of teff has gone up from 4500 to 5500 Birr. In Kebri Dahar and the Somali region, teff is being sold for 4500 Birr and a month ago it was 4000 Birr.
The recent conflicts in different parts of the country over the past two years, coupled with the Covid 19 pandemic, have had an impact on the production and distribution of teff, some experts argue.
Even though the government said it is working on ensuring a food self-sufficiency program, it has not been able to alleviate the demand for injera and teff. The reason for this is that the government is working mainly on wheat production only.
Ethiopia is the largest teff producer in the world. In 2017, teff accounted for 24% of the grain area, followed by maize 17% and sorghum 15%. Amhara and Oromia are the two major regions, collectively, account for 85.5% of the teff area and 87.8% of the teff production, according to the Open Agriculture Journal.