The opening of the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), a price stabilizer for maize prices, on August 24 2023, maize prices have continued to rise, a market report has shown.
Of the 26 markets that were monitored, retail maize prices declined only in three places by an average of two percent in August. The places are Nsanje, Mbayani in Blantyre and Chirina in Phalombe.
Prices remained elevated in the other markets, peaking to K830 per kilogramme (kg), or K41 500 per 50 kg bag in Chikwawa while the lowest prices were recorded in Rumphi at K503 per kg or K25 150 per 50 kg bag.
Ironically, Admarc sales were reported in five out of the 26 markets monitored by International Food Policy Research Institute (Ifpri).
Reads the August 2023 Malawi Monthly Maize Market Report: “Weekly average maize retail prices continued to increase in August, but their growth slowed from 27 percent in July to six percent in August, from K649 per kg in the last week of July to K690 per kg in the last week of August.
“However, this overall trend hides stark regional differences.”
As part of the food component, traditionally maize impacts the country’s economy as it constitutes 53.7 percent of the consumer price index, an aggregate basket of goods and services for computing inflation, which is currently at 28.4 percent as at July 2023.
The rising maize prices have continued to put pressure on prices as inflation remains elevated, rising to 28.6 percent, from the 28.4 percent recorded in July 2023.
During the month under review, both food and non-food inflation rose by a meagre 0.1 percent 39.4 percent and 61.1 percent, respectively.
Consumers Association of Malawi executive director John Kapito had expressed fear over the escalating maize prices, which he said would put consumers in a tight corner especially this October and February next year.
In April this year, President Lazarus Chakwera ordered Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale to ensure that all Admarc depots in the country have enough maize stocks to help hunger-stricken families.
Admarc partially opened its markets in some parts of the country last month but restricted individuals to buying a maximum of 25 kg maize. But a Nation on Sunday survey revealed that vendors are colluding with some Admarc officials to buy maize in bulk despite the institution’s rationing of the grain.
To support food security initiatives in the country, Secretary for Trade and Industry Christina Zakeyo announced that effective July 5, import procedures for maize had been relaxed, mandating the Malawi Revenue Authority to facilitate clearance for maize importation with no requirement for an import licence from the ministry.