Malawi has recorded an average retail maize price increase of 18 percent in February 2018, according to a published International Food Policy Research Institute (Ifpri) maize market report.
The average maize retail price was recorded at K114 per kilogramme (kg) during the month under review.
However, despite the price hike recorded over the last two months, retail maize prices are almost K100 per kg lower than in February last year, when the average maize price recorded by Ifpri was K21 0 per kg.
The price of the staple has in recent months been stable on account of oversupply of the commodity on the market with Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe indicating that the country has about 240 000 metric tonnes (MT) in grain reserves and about 190 000 MT in Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation (Admarc) warehouses.
Gondwe said the maize was enough to feed the nation this year.
The oversupply of the commodity consequently pushed down inflation to 7.1 percent in December 2017.
However, the rising maize prices have had a negative impact with inflation slowly inching up by 1 percentage points to 8.1 percent in January.
In an earlier interview, Grain Traders Association of Malawi (Gtam) president Grace Mijiga Mhango, said while it is expected that maize prices increase between January and March, speculation has negatively impacted pricing despite the availability of maize.
“There is information going around that we could have food shortage due to the dry spell and the fall armyworms. As a result, some traders are hoarding maize thereby creating a temporary deficit; hence, the rising prices.
“But we should also remember that this is the start of the lean season and we expect maize prices to go up and we can safely say that the prices are still relatively normal as compared to the previous years,” she explained.
Commenting on the rising maize prices, Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) president John Kapito said it is disappointing to note that government officials are fuelling speculation, which is coming at the expense of consumers.
However, President Peter Mutharika has asked Malawians not to panic over maize harvest on account of enough grain reserves.
The country harvested around 3.4 million MT of maize with an annual requirement of 3.2 million MT.