January 31, 2006
Here are three headlines that stopped me in my tracks this morning.
Ethiopia indefinitely bans exports of four kinds of food crops - Ethiopian News Agency (ENA)
Ethiopia bans indefinitely any exports of Teff, an indigenous staple grain, maize, sorghum and wheat, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said.
The ban came after the recent rise in the prices of the grains due to various reasons, the Ministry told ENA on Monday.
Inflated prices on these grains will put pressures on the consumer public, while the Ministry is duty bound to stabilize the market, the Ministrys statement said.
It said in spite of increase over the past year in the amount of harvest involving the listed grains, exports of the food crops and smuggling them out of the country in some cases were among the causes for the price hike.
Hence the need to ban exports of the crops indefinitely, it said, and called on banks and customs to take the necessary measures to implement the ban.
I'm no economist, but I thought exports were generally a good thing - or at least a neutral thing. Will banning exports of native grains really bring local prices down? Or will it damage local grain producers by cutting off their small amount of foreign income, thereby piling extra pressure on to the domestic market? You tell me. I only got a 'C' in my economics O' Level.
[Students of state journalism, by the way, should note a textbook use of the phrase "due to various reasons" when explaining complex market movements and government decisions. We are building up quite a lexicon here. Leaders meet to "discuss matters of mutual interest" and key things happen "due to various reasons".]
In totally unrelated news, the very next item on the ENA's agenda this morning reports that "The Kombolcha Textile Factory Share Company established in Southern Wollo Zone of the Amhara State said it has been striving to improve the quality of its products in a bid to secure 39 million Birr foreign currency during the current fiscal year." Let's hope, for Kombolcha's sake, that there is no corresponding hike in domestic textile prices.
Internet reporter held without charge in Ethiopia - CPJ Press Freedom Online
Ethiopian security forces have detained a correspondent for the U.S.-based Web site Ethiopian Review , its publisher Elias Kifle said today. Journalist Frezer Negash has been held without charge in Addis Ababa since Friday, Kifle told the Committee to Protect Journalists.
So they do keep track of what is being said online.
Court orders death sentence for police officer in killing of students - Sub-Saharan Informer
An Ethiopian court on Tuesday ordered the death sentence for a police officer who shot and killed two students in Ambo town, 130 kilometers west of Addis Ababa, a high-ranking court official told SSI.
Deputy Sergeant Girma Gezahagn, police officer in the Regional Police, shot Gagema Bedane and Kebede Bedane dead at 22:30 when a school shift was taking place on November 9, 2005, just one week after a second episode of street violence in Addis Ababa resulted in the deaths of at least 36 demonstrators.
Later on in the story we hear "the court decision also decreed that the media, both private and state-owned, should disseminate the judgment among the people of Ethiopia for their information". So that is what I am doing.
Posted by aheavens at January 31, 2006 7:02 AM
Call me paranoid, but piecing together some info such as: The old, rotting grain in the government silos cannot be kept fresh anymore despite repeated applications of pesticide. There has been a -ehem- "bumper" harvest of crops, in Oromia region mainly. The government is needing money (I mean, it's even reaching its greedy hands out to Provident Funds of NGOs etc)badly- so you go to the countryside and threaten/coerce farmers not to sell to private merchants and await the government middlemen to buy you grain off you. This means: The fresh grain gets stored, the government releases the unfit-for-consumption grain at slightly lower prices -et voila! Soaring cancer rates and miscarriages galore for the naughty people who dared stand up against you!
Posted by: Dina at January 31, 2006 8:13 AM
OK Dina - you're paranoid :)
Posted by: Andrew at January 31, 2006 8:18 AM
What a paradox with recent Melese Interview!!!!!!! His statmet was suggesting that there was increase in export but the next monday the news was ban in crop export and only saying teff will be reduced.
walta said this"He also said that international agencies have confirmed that crop production has this year increased by 15.1 percent and there is no decline in price, but rather an increase. The coffee export, which was 75 percent ,has currently declined to 25 percent and the demands of sesame, teff and spices are instead increasing in the world market -- teff constituting 68 percent and sesame 40 percent of the export,he stated. The price hike of grains in towns is attributable to the increase in the export ,Meles said,adding that the government would therefore reduce the amount of teff being exported with a view to stabilizing the market.
Posted by: Bean at January 31, 2006 12:23 PM
Its interesting that we are exporting Teff. I thought nobody else uses it but us. Looks like Europe is using it for its non-allergic properties. We also exporting a lot of meat and therefore the shortage. I don't think we should stop the export of both items. Rather we should encourage them. Maybe a short time stop for everyone to evaluate the situation, but we have to find a way to promote export.
I can't believe the parallel to 1974. Exports were booming, prices were increasing (oil,food), and yes there was unrest that led for the murder of the emperor, who did his best to promote growth. Obviously, early stages of growth are the most destabilizing periods. That is why I say patience is necessary.
Posted by: japhet at January 31, 2006 3:20 PM
andrew- thank you for heeding the court's order. you make me laugh.
Posted by: dan at January 31, 2006 3:30 PM
Meles imposed a ban on the exports of grain to deprive the Ethiopian Diaspora from getting Teff. The Diapsora's steadfast, effective, and unequivocal opposition to the tyranny of his regime has been a major Achilles heel. After futile attempts to intimidate the Diaspora with baseless lawsuits and charges of genocide, he is now resorting to deny the basic staple of Ethiopian diet to the millions of Ethiopians who live abroad. What do you think this brings you, Meles? Your infantile quest for revenge is adding much needed fuel to the unrelenting resolve of the Diaspora. I salute you for that!
Posted by: Mehari at February 1, 2006 7:29 AM