Rainfall has started tapering off in southern Malawi and the food security situation is improving as most poor households are accessing maize from their gardens. Spot checks in some parts of the region show that there is good looking maize crop and there are prospects of a better yield in the 2012/13 season if rainfall continues until the end of April.
The food security situation in the country is improving as food and cash crops continue to be harvested and, as such, the sale of cash crops is expected to allow most rural households to meet their livelihood protection and food needs.
The new harvest is expected to stem the rising food insecurity that households are experiencing due to extremely high maize prices.
A Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) report of March 2013 indicates that average prices were 216 percent above the five-year average and 211 percent higher than last year’s price levels.
“Since harvests have already begun in some parts of the country, prices are expected to decrease, but are likely to remain above last year and current year levels,” says the report.
In March, says the report, maize grain was still available in local markets across the country, but was selling at very high prices.
According to the Agriculture Market Information System (Amis), the national average retail price for February was 211 percent higher than the average in February 2012.
During the last two weeks of February, maize prices rose to as high as K180-K200 per kilogramme in several markets in southern Malawi, including Nsanje, Chikhwawa, Lunzu, Thyolo, Luchenza, Phalombe, Neno and Mwanza, the report says.
Maize is the country’s strategic crop, and the performance of the crop usually gives an indication of the economic performance in a particular year.
The staple grain is also the main driver of inflation because, as part of food, contributes about 50.2 percent to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a measure that examines the weighted average prices of consumer goods and services.