It is a big part of the tradition for an Ethiopian family to slaughter animal at home for the major holidays in the year. Yet as urbanization intensifies getting the right cattle for a reasonable price is becoming tricky. Prices in the five designated cattle trading places in the city are increasing almost every year. Limited supply in combination with hard negotiation has made going to the cattle market an unpleasant experience reports Fasika Tadesse, Fortune Staff Writer.
“I want to buy a sheep and not an ox,” said Abebech Degfe, 72, who was at Kera livestock market on Wednesday, when the sheep vendor told her that the sheep she wanted to buy cost 3,000 Br.
Abera Hailu, the seller, told her that the price was high because he brought the sheep from Debre Berhan, 130km from Addis Abeba in the North Shewa Zone of Amhara Regional.
Eventually, after haggling for over 20 minutes, they settled for half the price and for a smaller sheep. She tells him that she paid 300 Br less for a bigger sheep a year ago. He answers that he really did not make any profit; he was selling cheap to her because he had not made any sales that day.
As for Abera’s client, the past was good or Seid Umer, who was selling sheep with Abera. In the past, he said, he sold as many as 15 sheep a day, compared to seven in three days now.
The Kera livestock market, in Nefas Silk Lafto District, was devoid of buyers on Wednesday afternoon when Fortune visited the market centre.
Kera is one of the five livestock markets recognized by the Addis Abeba City Trade & Industry Bureau (AACTIB) along with Bircheko (in Kolfe Keranio District), Shegole (in Gulele District), Kara Allo (in Yeka District) and Akaki (in Akaki Kality District).
Bircheko is the only one that is legalized for sheep and goat trading, while the remaining four are designated for trading cattle.
The livestock market at Kera has four levels based on the price. The highest price for this Easter holiday is occupied by the first level oxen ranging between 25,000 Br and 30,000 Br. The second level ranges between 15,000 Br and 20,000 Br. The third level includes prices between 12,000 Br and 15,000 Br. The last level has prices between 6,000 Br and 10,000 Br.
Oxen at Kera are brought from various places, with the main suppliers being Jirru, Harar, Jimma, Gondar and Adama.
There are about six main gates where livestock enter to Addis Abeba from different parts of the country. They are Kolfe Keranio (New Ambo road), Gefersa (Ambo road), Entoto and Gulele (Bahir Dar Road), Kotebe (Asmera road), Akaki (Debre Ziet Road) and Alem Gena (Jimma and Buta Jira Road).
During the last Ethiopian Easter at Kera market the price of an ox ranged between 5,000 Br and 27,000 Br, depending on the size of the animal. But this year it has shown an increment. The smallest size ox is sold at 6,000 Br whereas the big-sized one costs 30,000 Br.
On casual days the amount of the ox and calf entering the Kera market is 300 in a day. However, the amount doubles during the holiday week, reaching 600, according to Mesfin Feyisa, the general manager of Kera Livestock Traders Association.
Even if the total supply increases, the individual suppliers decrease the number of the cattle they supply for the holiday market. Those who supply between 25 and 30 cattle have now lowered it to between 15 and 20 because of the price increment on the cattle, according to Teshome Gemechu, a cattle trader and a member of the Association.
Beside ox and cattle market sheep and goat are sold at a specified place for the transaction. The main areas supplying sheep are Debere Berhan, Wolayita Sodo (in Wolayita Zone, South Region), Arsi (in Oromia Region), Gondar and Jimma.
The price of sheep ranges between 1,200 Br and to 3,000 Br depending on the size of the animal. Last year’s Easter price was 1,200 Br for medium size sheep and large size sheep sold up to 2,800 Br. Depending on the size, a sheep from different parts of the country was sold for between 800 Br and 3,000 Br during the last Ethiopian Christmas.
Goats are sold between 800 Br to 2,700 Br based on the size of the animal. The most demanded one, goats from Harar, are found only with specific traders unlike sheep.
The other area which has a frozen cattle market is Shegole, located in the Gulele District. On the late afternoon of Wednesday, vendors, workers and guards were left in the market compound.
“The market is too slow and I expect it will be better when the holiday gets nearer,” said Alemyehu Yigezaw, a trader at Shegole for almost four years.
Although average sales at Shegole on casual days ranges between 700 and 800 cattle twice in a week, the amount has escalated to 300 in a single day alone for the holiday.
Like in the case of Kera, Shegole receives different types of cattle from different places such as Jimma, Harar, Jirru, Wolayita Sodo and Sululta (26.1km from Addis Abeba in North Shewa Zone of the Oromia Region).
The price varies based on the area from where the cattle came from and the size of the animal.
Ten kilometres from the Shegole cattle market, there is a sheep market on a large area where the traders were waiting for potential buyers to sell the sheep which mainly come from Selale and Ginchi (both in Oromia region).
Dawit Alemu feels certain that the sheep he bought for 2,000 Br this year had the same size as the one he had bought for 1,800 Br a year ago. By his own estimate, there seems to be a price increase of 100 Br on average.
On the other hand, the Addis Abeba Abattoirs Enterprise (AAAE), which slaughters livestock for holidays, is expected to slaughter 2,050 oxen and 1,350 sheep on average for the Easter holiday.
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