Informal cross-border maize exports increased by 125 percent from 1 258 metric tonnes (MT) in June to 2 829 MT in July this year, published figures from the Famine and Early Warning Systems Network (FewsNet) show.
In its August 2021 Malawi Food Security Outlook Update, FewsNet reported that at 2 829 MT, the July 2021 exports are 38 percent higher than the five-year average due to above-average maize output.
Reads the report in part: “Overall, staple maize grain prices continue to trend lower than the five-year average.
“This is largely due to two consecutive above-average production seasons leading to higher supplies at household, market and national levels.”
Meanwhile, month-on-month informal cross- border maize imports (mostly from Mozambique and Zambia) decreased by 26 percent from 1 955 MT in June to 1 444 MT in July.
In an interview yesterday, Grain Traders Association of Malawi president Grace Mijiga Mhango said exports have increased due to maize shortage in neigbouring Mozambique.
She said: “We noted that since April, Mozambique maize was not coming into Malawi as it normally does during harvest.
“Instead, maize has been moving into Mozambique. Besides that, their prices as early as end May were already quite high trading at K185 per kilogramme (kg) in Nampula as opposed to K80 to K90 in Malawi.”
According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, between April and July 2021, 8.8 percent of farmers were selling maize at equal to or greater than the minimum farm-gate price of K150 per kg.
In an interview yesterday, Ministry of Trade spokesperson Mayeso Msokera indicated that the ministry is working in collaboration with the Malawi Revenue Authority, law enforcement and public security agencies to curb smuggling, including that of maize.
“We wish to remind the public that under the Control of Goods Act 2018, maize is a controlled commodity, the export of which requires a licence,” he said, adding that a window for maize export has not been opened.
Msokera said the decision to issue export permits will have to be endorsed by the Ministry of Agriculture after reviewing the country’s food balance sheet.
The first round crop production estimates showed that Malawi was expected to produce 4.4 million MT of maize, which is 42 percent above the five-year average and 29 percent above the estimated national requirement of 3.4 million MT.