Increased availability of maize on the market has helped to lower maize prices to a minimum of K111 per kilogramme (kg) or K5 600 per 50 kg bag, a food survey has shown.
The findings were established in recently published Emergency Agriculture and Food Security Surveillance System (EmA-FSS) Bulletin jointly done by the European Union, Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Malawi Government.
The analysis, which covers April 27 to May 3 and May 4 to May 10, shows that maize availability on the market has increased slightly from 69 percent in week one to 74 percent in week two with Kasungu registering the lowest price decline at K111 per kg while Nkata Bay, registred the highest price of maize costing K221.30 or K11 110 per 50 kg bag.
This is, however, despite the average maize prices slightly decreasing from an average of K161.1 to K157.5 per kgduring the review period.
During the period under reviewperiod, 99 percent of the markets sampled were functional and operating normally.
Maize, the country’s staple grain, is harvested between April and May in the country.
Meanwhile, in May, the Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket (Smeb)—the bare minimum amount a household requires to maintain existence and cover lifesaving needs—slightly increased by K500 to K58 672 from April.
The World Food Programme observes in its Minimum Expenditure Basket in Malawi anlysis published last week that apart from aggravating factors like Covid-19 pandemic), there would be no major price changes at this time of year in the total value of the Smeb, notably because the food component comprises the vast majority of the Smeb.
Reads the Smeb report in part: “While the non-food expenditure increased significantly, there was a slight dip in the food share, which decreased by 3.3 percent.
“As a result, little movement was observed in the overall value of the SMEB.”
On April 12 this year, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security set the minimum farm gate price for maizeat K200.
However, agricutural analyst Tamani Nkhono-Mvula observed that unless government enforces minimum prices and farmers get organised, the farmgate prices the government releases every year will not benefit the farmer.
Maize, as part of the food component, impacts the country’s economy given that it constitutes 45.2 percent of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is an aggregate basket of goods and services for computing inflation
The Smeb excludes meat, eggs and dairy because these products are rarely consumed, education costs, health-service fees and basic medicines as well as agricultural input costs.