Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) has said the price of maize on the local market is still beyond the reach of many poor households as the cost of a 50 kilogramme (kg) bag averages K13 333 (about $20) as of February 2016.
This development, according to CfSC, has led to low income households seeking a way out from depots of State produce trader, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), where the grain was sold at K5 500 (about $8) per 50kg bag, representing 41.25 percent of the local market price.
CfSC observed that the country continues to feel the impact of the 30 percent maize output deficit during the 2014/15 growing season owing to combined effects of floods and drought nationwide. In the February 2016 Basic Needs Basket statement released yesterday, CfSC said among the poorest and most vulnerable, women suffer most the effects of climate change due to their weak position in society which is characterised by lack of asset ownership and ascribed multiple roles in society as child cares, farmers and providers of food, shelter and firewood.
“Random visits to some Admarc depots across the country revealed predicaments which most women had to endure to buy the grain. Women dominated the queues in the face of heat and rains men’s queues were very short and got quickly served as most of them shunned the depots.in waiting for maize while
“Worse, some women had to endure the queues while carrying hungry and crying babies at their backs. The unpredictable maize supply to the depots also forced some women to sleep at the depots for days with the hope of being amongst the first ones to buy when maize arrives the next morning,” reads the statement in part.
On the general cost of living in February, CfSC says the cost of living in urban areas has gone up by K7 098 from K155 301 in January this year to K162 399 in February.
On average, the statement indicates that, in the month of February, a household of six in Lilongwe spent K172 969, Zomba K157 066 (about $234), Blantyre K172 168 (about $256), Mzuzu K150 760 (about $224), Karonga K145 425 (about $216) and Mangochi K176 004 (about $262) in order to meet basic needs.
At the beginning of this year, President Peter Mutharika said that government has enough food to take the 2.8 million Malawians that were estimated to face starvation into the next harvest period. n