Grain Traders and Processors Association of Malawi has said the rising demand for maize on the local market has forced its members to start importing the staple grain from neighbouring Zambia.
In an interview yesterday, the association’s president Grace Mhango said the situation has pushed up maize prices on the local market.
“Our maize market was stable until cylone Idai hit some parts of the country, which affected the maize crop.
“This has pushed demand for maize due to the immediate humanitarian response. So, the rule of demand and supply has taken its course,” she said.
Maize, as part of the food component, traditionally impacts the country’s economy given that it constitutes 45.2 percent in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is an aggregate basket of goods and services for computing inflation.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development figures showed that in total, the floods washed away 71 111 hectares (ha) of food and cash crops earlier in March, translating to about 639 999 metric tonnes (MT) of potential crop production.
The loss of maize alone is estimated at 421 919MT in the five affected agricultural development divisions, with Shire Valley, Machinga and Blantyre being the hardest hit.
Famine and Early Warning Systems Network (FewsNet) March 2019 price watch reports that Zambia’s informal maize grain exports increased by 70 percent mainly to Malawi and to a lesser extent Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania due to low maize supplies.