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The Araqe Dilemma

The Socioeconomics of Traditional Distilled Alcohol Production, Marketing, and Consumption in Ethiopia

by Yeraswork Admassie, Ezana Amdework

Araqe is a traditional home-distilled beverage that is made from an assortment of cereals such as wheat, sorghum and maize, and has a high level of ethanol. A ubiquitous feature of present day Ethiopian society, with the exception of the predominantly Muslim communities, Araqe is more than the alcoholic drink of choice for people living in rural and small towns. Thanks to its qualities of divisibility, long shelf-life, portability, and high unit value, it is also an important commodity that is produced by, traded between, and consumed in most rural and urban areas of the country. Its negative effects notwithstanding, it is a major object of exchange that ties cities to their rural hinterlands and with one another, thus becoming an important component of the social fabric of the society. It is an important social fact that cannot be dismissed as a fringe phenomenon. But in spite of the substantial amount of araqe that is distilled, traded, and consumed within the informal sector, and the important place it holds in the socioeconomic fabric of the society, no comprehensive study has to date been undertaken on its interrelated aspects at a national level.

The general objective of this study is to assess and document the processes (origin, introduction and spread), patterns (arenas, manners), trends (currently evolving forms and future directions), as well as impacts (on environment, economy, social, health and security) of the production, marketing, and consumption of the homemade liquor, araqe, with the ultimate aim of indicating how and to what extent these factors contribute to economic development/stagnation and social cohesion/disruption in rural Ethiopia in particular as well as the country at large.

ISBN 9789994450367 | 136 pages | 229 mm x 152mm | B/W Illustrations | 2010 | Forum for Social Studies, Ethiopia | Paperback




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