Africa Blossoms: A Continent On the Verge of an Agricultural 

From famine to feast: Ethiopia's commodity exchange symbolizes hope for African farming - Time. (Photo from Bloomberg video)

Time Magazine
By Alex Perry / Addis Ababa

It’s a slow day on the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, so the dealers are trading stories instead. “I love the money, and I love the atmosphere,” says sesame and coffee dealer Takele Chemeda, 38, surveying the octagonal trading pit and the giant screens hanging from the ceiling. “What happens on the floor stays on the floor, you know? After a big session, we all go out and party.” At 43, sesame trader Stemsu Abdella worries about how much longer he can take the pace. “What do you see on my face? That’s stress, man, stress.” Inevitably, talk turns to sesame buyer Belayneh Kinde, the exchange’s most legendary trader. Says floor manager Fekadu Berta: “He buys five, maybe six million dollars a session. He knows what’s happening and what’s going to happen. The guy came from a really poor family. He just bought a hotel.”

To those who think of Ethiopia primarily as a place of hunger, the idea that the country’s first yuppies are food traders will come as a surprise. But much has changed in the quarter-century since Live Aid. A nation that was once the focus of a multimillion-dollar famine-relief effort is now home to a trading floor — the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) — that sold $1 billion in coffee, sesame, wheat, maize, peas and haricot beans last year.



















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