Grain Traders and Processors Association of Malawi says it is banking on government’s policy review to export maize to regional markets amid a growing maize deficit.
The association’s president Grace Mhango said in interview on Monday that currently, maize in Tanzania and Kenya is selling at an average price of K300 per kilogramme (kg) while in Zimbabwe, a huge market for now in the Southern Africa Development Community, it is selling at an average price of K200 per kg.
She said this is unlike in the country where maize prices have dropped to as low as K130 per kg or K6 500 per 50 kg bag.
Mhango said their estimates show that maize prices in neighbouring countries could go up to as high
as K400 per kg during the lean season.
She said: “Food shortage in the Eastern part of Africa is real. Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa reports show that 250 million people in 13 African countries will face hunger and this creates a definite market for Malawi maize.
“These prices are attractive for informal exports and we will not be surprised to have maize shortage and high prices in November this year.”
Maize output has this year increased by 8.8 percent to 3.6 million MT from 3.3 million metric tonnes (MT) in 2018/19 growing season largely due to favourable weather conditions and an increased uptake of inputs by farmers, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) chief executive officer Felix Jumbe, whose firm has been buying maize at K200 per kg, said in an interview on Monday that considering that the country’s maize reserves are negligible, exports can not hold despite the rising demand in the region.
He said both Admarc and the strategic grain reserves require 180 000 MT and 217 000MT, respectively.
Said Jumbe: “We currently have 35 000 MT which we bought at 200 per kg from the K7 billion, which Treasury gave us plus another 20 000MT which we have bought using a facility from the commercial banks.
“We might be getting another facility to buy 50 000MT, but we still need another 100 000MT.
Agricultural expert Tamani Nkhono-Mvula said it is important to let Admarc and the National Food Reserve Agency to buy all the maize they need before opening up for exports.
But he said in the absence of official figures, it maybe too risky to have free-for-all maize exports.
Ministry of Trade spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said in an interview on Monday that under the new Control of Goods Act, maize and maize products are licensed, but approval will depend on whether Ministry of Agriculture gives a no-objection.
The Malawi Government imposed a maize export ban in 2017 to ensure that the country has enough maize.