GATHER THE HERD




The compound of Kera cattle market, which had been passive for the past two months due to lent, began showing signs of life as Easter approached. On Wednesday April 08, 2015, the Kera, Shola and Kara cattle markets were beginning to come alive with cattle sellers, but there were practically no buyers in all three of them.

At Kera, there was a buyer browsing among the standing bovine with excitement to find one for the budget he had in his pocket. Ephreme Tegegne visited the market four days ahead of the holiday carrying 8,000 Br, raised with a contribution of 1,000 Br each among neighbours and friends to buy an ox for the traditional qircha – sharing the meat of the animal.

“We wanted to buy an ox, because buying sheep or goat individually is unaffordable,” he said.

Ephrem and his neighbours had expected to pay no more than 8,000 Br, but most oxen were selling for at least 10,000 Br at Kera as well as Shola and Kara, the main cattle markets in Addis Abeba. But there were also some bovine for which the asking price was as high as 35,000 Br.

If Ephrem has to buy his animal from Kera, he would probably need to negotiate a little bit harder and raise more money, as mostly the minimum calling price there was 10,000 Br. The bigger oxen had a price tag of 18,000 Br. He remembers a year ago finding oxen that sold for as little as 8,000 Br to 10,000 Br.

Gefersu Geda, a retailer from the Southern region, came to Addis Abeba with 26 oxen, double the number he had for Christmas. He gets his animals for 7,000 Br to 8,000 Br, which he says is higher than last Easter, when these figures were selling prices at the Kera market.

“The Easter holiday is a peak time for the cattle business, because most people do not compromise the purchasing of cattle as well as meat,” Gefersu told Fortune.

However, there is a shortage of cattle at this holiday, he adds, as there has been shortage of feed because of the Bega (dry) season.

Another retailer, Achenef Lema, says that shorter rainfall has led to poorer growth of grass, affecting the supply to the livestock market from Harrar, Jimma, Debre Brehan, Jiru, Wollega and Wolayita.

Although the higher feed price has contributed to the higher price of the cattle, a more important reason, according to the sellers, is that the traders are waylaid by gangs along the way to the market who charge them “taxes”, according to Alemu Gebeyehu, an officer at the Kara livestock market. Last year the government had taken measure to stop these gangs, but the control has now been relaxed, says Alemu. Those selling sheep were heard asking 1,500 Br and 3,500 Br for sheep of different sizes. This holiday is more optimistic for Delil Jemal, who brought 100 sheep to the Kera market, more by 22 than what he had brought for Christmas. The asking price he mentioned above is higher than the 1,000 Br to 2,500 Br that used to be quoted last year, he says.

The price ranges are more or less the same at Kera as well as at Kara and Meskel Flower. The asking price for goats is going as high as 5,000 Br.

Ibrahim Nesru, who had supplied 50 goats per day for the holiday market, said that goats are not predominantly preferred livestock for buyers because some members of the family may even reject eating goats and hence the market for goats is limited, unlike sheep.

The number of cattle that were expected to enter the Kera market did not do so at the predicted time and the supply of cattle had generally diminished for this holiday, Amdel Jemal, officer at the Kera market told Fortune.

He compares the number of cattle entered the Kera market this holiday to the last year’s Easter holiday. Last year, 30 trucks carrying an average of nine cattle had entered the market centre three days ahead of the holiday. This holiday, there are only 27 trucks entering the market place, one truck mostly carrying nine cattle. But even those cattle that are arriving are not of good quality.

Central Statistics Agency (CSA) data show that in the 2013/2014 fiscal year a total of 3.8 million cattle were sold, out of a total population of 55 million heads.



By LUCY KASSA
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER

Published on April 13, 2015 [ Vol 15 ,No 780]


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