Maize retail prices continue rising despite this being the harvest season, increasing by an average of 12 percent in May to K204 per kilogramme (kg), International Food Policy Research Institute (Ifpri ) data has shown.
In its May 2022 Maize Market Price Report published on Wednesday, Ifpri said, however, this is about 61 percent higher than the same month last year (May 2021) and a significant deviation from the typical pattern of falling post-harvest prices likely related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Reads the report in part: “Maize continues to sell at highest retail prices in the South. Maize retail prices in the North were more unstable especially in the last two weeks of the month.
“As at the end of May, prices in the South averaged K210 per kg, in the Centre averaged K189 per kg, while in the North prices averaged at K183 per kg.”
Ifpri data show that within the month, maize retail prices were highest in Mwanza, selling at K275 per kg and lowest in Mzimba, Mzuzu, Rumphi, Chiringa and Liwonde selling at K150 per kg.
However, despite price increases across markets ranging from five percent in Chikwawa to as high as 60 percent in Liwonde, two markets (Chimbiya and Mitundu) registered price decline of eight and 10 percent, respectively.
In an interview on Wednesday, Consumers Association of Malawi executive director John Kapito observed that this year’s maize yield was very low.
He said: “We have already seen the market reacting and mostly from speculation and exacerbated by the devaluation and general high prices on the market.
“Consumers need to be aware and prepare for the high prices and those that have limited stocks must not sell all their maize.”
Ministry of Agriculture data show that although this year’s harvest will decline by 14 percent as compared to the previous year, the country will harvest about 3.9 million metric tonnes (MT) of maize this year, according to first-round crop production estimates.
With this, it means the country will have a surplus of 900 00MT of maize.
Meanwhile, Admarc sales were only reported in two out of the 26 markets monitored by the institute.
In an earlier interview, an Admarc official said the State grain trader was still waiting for the maize to dry as the moisture content was hovering at around 20 percent.
Industry experts say the recommended moisture content is between 10 to 12.8 percent.
In the 2022/23 National Budget, Treasury allocated K12 billion for maize purchases by the National Food Reserve Agency and Admarc to replenish the strategic grain reserves.