A survey conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (Ifpri) shows that half of the rural population in the country has experienced an increase in food prices for their regular purchases in the past three months.
In a report titled Covid-19 in Rural Malawi: Perceived Risks and Economic Impacts, Ifpri said many rural people have reported limiting the size of their meals while others reported having reduced the number of meals, suggesting a high level of vulnerability.
Reads the report in part: “In rural areas, incidence of Covid-19 is low, suggesting that the direct health impacts of the disease are unlikely to be high.
“But disruptions resulting from national policies as well as people’s behaviours could still drive meaningful economic responses.”
However, reported levels of labour participation were low with just 65 percent of men and 52 percent of women having worked over the previous three months, a reflection of the timing of the survey in a low agricultural season.
In his reaction to the findings, Consumers Association of Malawi executive director John Kapito in an interview on Sunday expressed shock with the rising prices on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said considering that access to basic needs is a challenge, consumers need a lot of protection to maintain a decent standard of living
“Consumers must be assertive and check on the quality and prices of goods,” said Kapito.
In its recent analysis of the minimum expenditure basket in Malawi, World Food Programme indicated a slight increases for its survival expenditure minimum basket (Smeb) calculated at K35 648 (Rural North), K38 127 (Rural Centre) and K43 107 (Rural South).
Prices increases for maize pulses and dried fish contributed to the increase in Smeb across regions.
Reads the analysis: “However, rural Southern Region continues to have the highest Smeb of all the three regions likely due to relatively high increase in the prices of maize.”