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Holiday meat market

Ethiopians go big on holiday festivities sparing almost no expense to make the day as enjoyable as possible. With the unique home animal slaughter tradition, shopping for holiday is always stressful to the household budget. Usually, sheep and goat, chicken and cattle traders see their most imaginative profit margin around holidays. This year is no different with cattle and chicken markets experiencing shortage in supply and hikes in their price, observes Dawit Endeshaw.        


Despite the cold and the rainy afternoon of September 7, 2017 where Alemayehu Tarekgne, a cattle trader, and his friend from Gonder are patiently waiting for the Ethiopian New Year market to warm up.

Each holiday comes with its own buzz and sprit; but this one, unlike Alemayehu’s expectation, seems a bit cold.

The Reporter met him at Kera Market Center. The 20,000sqm open cattle market in Kera was built almost half century ago. It is now one of the four major cattle markets in Addis Ababa including the ones in Kotebe and Akaki.

The market center at Kera has the capacity to accommodate an average of 2,500 cattle and 3,000 sheep and goats at a time. But in the meantime, the center is receiving only cattle.

It hosts all sorts of customers including those who own butcher houses as well as individual customers.

For this holiday, the market center at Kera has received cattle from most part of the country such as Gonder, Harer, Wellega, Jima and Adama among others.

Alemayehu traveled all the way from Gonder, along with his partner. Both brought 16 cattle for the new market where they are hopefully waiting to sell all before the end of New Year celebration.

However, to his dismay, Alemayehu did not get buyers after almost one week stay at the market center.

Usually, sale of livestock inside the center reflects significant seasonal variations. More than anything demand and supply have a major role to play on the price of cattle.

In this regard, the New Year market is considered to be more stable as far as price is concerned. The New Year, unlike other festivities, will have a better supply of cattle which will have a direct impact in the price.

The New Year price will always show a downward trend which is fair in comparison to other holidays, said Tomas Kidanea, a 40-year-old trader who claimed to know the market since his early childhood.

In addition to regular buyers such as butcher houses, this holiday buyers from Sebeta cattle market are also coming to Kera. Particularly, the buyers from Sebeta are resellers and take as many as they can to sale it to their market in Sebeta.

In holidays other than New Year, the supply of cattle will be somehow limited. But, New Year is the only season where most cattle suppliers across the country came to Addis.

According to traders, this year’s market is showing 1000 to 2000 birr decline in price in comparison to similar holidays over the years.

For instance, last year, the price at the center ranged from 7,000 to 25,000 birr.

When The Reporter visited the market, on Thursday, the price on a downward trend in comparison to last year’s Ethiopian New Year.

The latest price at the center is from 7,000 birr to 20,000 birr. Usually, the price is based on the type, size and origin of the cattle. In this respect, cattle from the Harari region come out on top most of the time.

Cattle from Harer fetches from 18,000 birr to 20,000 birr, while those from Jimma-9,000 birr to 12,000 birr and that of Gonder between 7,000 birr to 11,000 birr.

Unlike previous trends of profit margins, Alemayehu and his friends are looking for up to 400-birr profit per one cattle. In good times, it may go up to 600 birr to 1,000 birr.

The good times he described are those with some limited supplies.

As far as supply is concerned, in 2015, starting from two weeks before the Ethiopian New Year until the eve of festivities, the centre had received close to 5, 277 cattle.

Last year, up until September 7, 2016, only 3,946 cattle had made it to Kera, a decline by 2,000 cattle compared to the previous year.  

This year is better when it comes to the supply, said Tekei Gidaye, coordinator of the Kera Livestock Market Centre.

The decline in 2016, however, has something to with the political unrest in Amhara and Oromia Regional States, according to the trades.

By the time, it was difficult for traders to bring their cattle to Addis because the road was not safe. Traders from Gonder as well as most part of Oromia were among the highly affected. Last year, these parts of the country were in a political violence which finally led the country to the declare state of emergency (SoE). The SoE have then continued for the past ten months and has ended just a couple of months ago.

Following the latest stay home strike in parts of Oromia, which came after a call by a diaspora based Oromo political activists, there was a speculation that it might have an impacted the holiday market.

Usually in Ethiopia, with the exception of markets in Addis, live animal sales reflect significant seasonal variations.

Demand and supply are heavily influenced by the consumer habits connected to religious practices and festivities in both the lowland and highland areas and natural disasters, according Ethiopian Livestock Market Information System.

According to a data from their website, there was an increase in prices of cattle from beginning of December 2016 till end of January 2017 due to domestic demand during the festive season.

After that, during the month of February 2017, the livestock prices start to record a general drop as compared to the preceding months.

According to reports from major cattle markets across Ethiopia (for the period between December 2016 to January 2017), the supply has shown great variation from market to market. For instance, supply increased at Mega by 42.7 percent and Babile Oromia at 24.1 percent, while showing a marked decline in Afar (20.3 percent), Mieso Oromia at (-29.6 percent), Raya Azebo (-10.9 percent) and Midega (-2.3 percent), reads the report.

According to the report a livestock markets which showed a decline in price and supply, which is also attributed to the ongoing drought, occurred mainly at the pastoral areas.

Ethiopia has around 56 million cattle population, which put the country among the top ten nations in terms of its livestock population in the world. From the total population, Oromia regional sate contributes the major chunk with 40 percent.

Just recently, the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) reported that more than two million livestock have died because of the drought.

Unlike the cattle market which players are saying is showing a supply hike, other holiday aspect of the holiday markets such as chicken market is experiencing the reverse.

Among other things, Chicken occupies a central place in Ethiopia’s traditional holiday feast; and chicken slaughtering is also a long-held tradition. This practice usually applies to the larger part of the society, irrespective of their income level.

Unlike the cattle market, however, this particular market (Chicken) shows an increase in price which is attributed to a limited supply.

Usually, chicken supply declines during the rainy season, said a seller at Shola Market. I went to a number of places some of them afar to get the supply.

Usually the rainy season is not ideal season for chickens which has an adverse effect on the supply.

According to recent chicken market assessments, the price has gone up to 450 birr, from150 birr while back. The price usually varies based on the size and kinds of the hens.

Recent assessment at Shola market shows that the indigenous chicken ranged in price from 250 birr to 300 birr, while the hybrid goes up to 350 birr. However, based on the size, the price may increase up to 450 birr.

Four hundred fifty birr is very expensive, said a buyer in his late 20’s.

However, the price may go up as New Year fest approaches.

Ethiopia is estimated to have 51.3 million chicken population, according to Central Statics Agency. Out of this, 96 percent of them are indigenous whereas the rest are hybrid and exotic.