Pepper Hot

Spices go into blending berbere (red pepper powder), mitmita (hot pepper powder), and shiro into clarifying butter and making stews, as well as in tea and other consumables. Come holidays, demand for these spices go up, price following it, so much so that even exporters halt export for a few weeks.

Among the crowd of Easter shoppers at Shola market was Genet Dubre, 45, who had finished preparing spices for butter and stews a month earlier, and was at Shola to purchase spices to blend with the berbere she was going to prepare.

Shola and Merkato are her favourite places for shopping. Most of her spice purchases are in small quantities, except those she needed for berbere and shiro, which she had to buy in kilos. For butter and stews, she had to get her spices in small quantities that cost five to 10 Br a piece. In all, she would spend 65 Br for butter spices and 45 Br for stew spices.

Stews need such spices as cinnamon, cloves, cumin, nutmeg and black pepper. Spices commonly used in butter, on the other hand, are black cumin, cardamom, white cumin, basil and butter herb.

Cinnamon costs 80 Br per kilo, whereas cloves are sold for 3.40 Br per kilo. The price of kemun is 100 Br per kilo, whereas the price of nutmeg is 300 Br per kilo. Black pepper is valued at 240 Br per kilo, all at Shola market.

Black cumin, white cumin, butter herb and basil all cost 40 Br a kilo, while cardamom costs 100 Br at Shola.

At a store in Merkato, cardamom was selling for 100 Br, up from 80 Br two to three weeks ago black cumin had gone up from 30Br three weeks ago to 35Br now and butter herb and basil have gone up from 35Br and 30 Br to 40Br both.

In supermarkets, where spices were sold in small packages 20 gms, butter and stew spices were selling for eight and 14Br, respectively.

Traders are happy with the berbere spices, which they sell in kilos outside of the holidays for a good profit. Yet the holidays are prime time for spices. For Yahia Seid Omar Importer amp Exporter Plc, a spice exporter, holidays are a challenge. The company suspends making any deals with its international clients while the price of spices remains high during the holidays.

“This is the regular phenomenon in the business of the spice and it will extend up to three weeks,” Yahiya Omar, general manager of Yahiya told Fortune.

The spice market is characterized both by shortage of production and price spikes during the time of holiday, says Asefa Yohanes, general manager of the Ethiopian Pulses, Oilseeds amp Spices Processors amp Exporters Association.

“But if there is an increase in production, there will not be any problem in the export market, be it holiday or not,” he said.

Esayas Mekonen, who owns a spice shop in Merkato, says most of his customers are not willing to buy all kinds of spices separately since there is a trend of selling of spices that are collected from all kinds of spices in one.

The maximum amount of selling during normal days is less than five kilos, whereas the average amount of spices is more than 10 kilograms during holidays.

The major spices cultivated in Ethiopia are ginger, hot pepper, fenugreek, turmeric, coriander, cumin, cardamoms and black pepper, according to data from the Ethiopian Investment Agency (EIA) for the year 2013. Currently, nearly 122,700 ha of land is cultivated for spices. Spice production reached 244,000 tns a year. The potential areas for the cultivation of spices are Amhara, Oromia, South and Gambella regions. The total potential for low lands spice farming is estimated to be 200,000ha of land says data obtained from the Central Statistical Agency (CSA) for the year 2013.

Source : Addis Fortune

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