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Unaffordable grain staples deepen crisis

Latest update : 2008-06-04

Ethiopia is among the hardest-hit nations in the world food crisis. The price of teff, a grain used for injera bread and a staple in the Ethiopian diet, has become unaffordable. F.Berruyer/N. Trabelsi report from the field.

 

Even if the rain is back in Ethiopia, the harm has already been done. The winter harvest was destroyed by drought, leaving almost 3 million Ethiopians hungry and without food reserves.

 

 At an emergency medical center, several women turned up in a desperate bid to save their starving children.

 

“My husband earns less than one euro a day,” one woman told FRANCE 24 as she waited patiently for help. “There wasn’t any more work on the fields, so I came here to ask for help.”

 

At the local market, food and customers are both rare, as prices have skyrocketed. Children can be seen scavenging grains. In addition to the famine, Ethiopians have to face the slump in international markets, and times are tough even for the merchants. “Even if we earn more, the prices have also increased for us. I have difficulties making ends meet,” said a merchant.

 

As prices increase every week, clients inquire about the purchase price of grain - to find out if they still have the means to afford food.

 

In the past three months, the price of teff, Ethiopia’s staple, has doubled. Teff is used to make engira, the traditional, pancake-like Ethiopian bread, vital to every Ethiopian meal.

 

“It’s our main food,” said a customer at an open food stall selling the grain. “I don’t know how much longer I can keep on buying it.”

 

Teff, apart from being the main ingredient in Ethiopia’s bread, has grown to become a national symbol. As famine threatens the country, Ethiopia’s national cereal is gradually turning into a precious rarity.

 

Date created : 2008-06-03

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