Rising food prices, particularly maize, have pushed up Malawi’s year-on-year inflation rate for May 2016 by 0.6 percentage points to 21.5 percent from 20.9 percent the month before, according to National Statistical Office (NSO).
Maize prices have been on the upward spiral in recent times, owing to a 12.4 percent deficit in the staple grain relative to last year, putting about 6.5 million Malawians on the brink of starvation.
Figures from Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development show that maize output this year is estimated at 2.4 million tonnes.
Maize, as part of food component in the consumer price index (CPI)—an aggregate basket for computing inflation—has a bigger weight at 50.1 percent which means that any movement either way affects inflation rate.
In a statement on Friday, NSO said food inflation rose by 1.4 percentage points to 25.7 percent in May from 24.3 percent in April while non-food inflation dropped to 17.6 percent.
Urban and rural rates stand at 18.5 percent and 23.6 percent respectively.
Ben Kaluwa, economics professor at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima), said in an interview on Saturday it is not surprising that inflation rate is rising because maize prices have been rising at unimaginable levels.
He said in the wake of poor harvest this year, Malawi’s food prices will continue to escalate thereby pushing up inflation rate.
Malawi’s inflation rate is one of the highest in the Common Market for Eastern and Central Africa (Comesa) under Harmonised Consumer Price Index (HCPI).