Retail maize prices have started rising, with the Southern Region alone recording a 21 percent increase, figures contained in International Food Policy and Research Institute (Ifpri) show.
In its July 2020 Malawi Monthly Maize Market Report, Ifpri reports that as at July 31 2021, Chikwawa recorded the highest increase at K200 per kilogramme (kg) followed by Bangula (Nsanje) at K172 per kg and Mwanza at K163 per kg.
In Mulanje and Luchenza, maize was selling at K160 per kg, according to the report.
Of the 128 markets monitored, only nine markets had maize sold at the minimum farm gate of K150 per kg, with lowest prices offered in Chitipa in the Northern Region at K84 per kg or K4 200 per 50 kg bag.
Reads the report in part: “Average retail prices for the maize harvested in 2021 increased by four percent in July 2021. The monthly average retail maize price in July 2021 was K131 per kg.
“During the month of July, smallholder farmers continued to receive on average only K95 per kg for their maize at the farm-gate. This is 37 percent below the minimum farm gate price of K150 per kg. Only eight percent of farmers who sold maize in July received at least the minimum farm-gate for their maize.”
Meanwhile, at K6 500 per 50 kg bag, average retail maize prices in Malawi were lower than in selected regional markets in eastern Africa.
In Zambia, Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda and Kenya, maize was selling at a minimum of K7 500, K8 000, K8 500, K12 000 and K17 000 per 50 kg bag, in that order.
In an interview yesterday, Grain Traders Association of Malawi president Grace Mijiga Mhango said despite good prices in the region, exporting now is not an option.
She said: “The best time for maize exports is from January onwards. This will be after assessing next season’s crop estimates.
“What we hope should happen is that government should communicate on time for a tonnage that can be exported so that we can align with markets. Exporting now will be suicidal. We don’t have the one million tonnes surplus as projected.”
State-produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) targets to buy in excess of one million metric tonnes (MT), with K62 billion available for buying the grain.
Agricultural policy expert Tamani Nkhono-Mvula earlier urged Admarc to also open satellite depots in hard to reach areas, where farmers are serviced by vendors.
According to first round crop production estimates, Malawi is expected to produce 4.4 million MT of maize, which is 42 percent above the five-year average and 29 percent above the estimated national requirement of 3.4 million MT.