Maize prices eased 2% in March—report

Maize prices dropped by two percent in March, largely attributed to the onset of the harvest season, a maize market report from International Food Policy Research Institute (Ifpri) shows.

The report shows that retail maize price in March was recorded at K180 per kilogramme (kg) or K9 000 per 50 kg bag.

Projections show that maize prices will continue to trend downwards

Reads the report in part: “Maize prices in some Southern Region markets affected by floods increased in the middle of March, but prices in these markets are now falling.

“Maize prices were highest in the South and lowest in the North, as has been the case since last year.”

 The report says prices in the Southern Region rose sharply during second week of March, mainly due to the floods that hit parts of the region following the heavy rains caused by tropical Cyclone Idai.

Grain Traders  and Processors Association of Malawi president Grace Mijiga Mhango agreed with the findings, saying in February, prices ranged from K170 and K190 per kg in the Southern Region, but immediately after the disaster, prices jumped to about K210 per kg.

She said: “Currently, the demand has stabilised because we really don’t have a definite off-taker apart from speculations that maybe World Food Programme or government will buy the maize.

“We foresee prices not dropping much besides people having bumper yields. Demand will still be high because of the maize scarcity in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, which has heavily been affected by Cyclone Idai.”

Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito said in an interview the findings are a true reflection of the maize prices on the ground.

Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development second round crop estimates show that the country will have a 355 000 metric tonnes (MT) maize surplus.

The ministry’s Principal Secretary Grey Nyandule Phiri said on Monday that the second round maize production is now pegged at 3.35 million MT, representing a 24.36 percent increase when compared to the 2017/18 final round estimate of 2.6 million MT.

Maize is an important crop to the country’s economy, and as part of food, constitutes about 45.2 percent in the Consumer Price Inde (CPI).

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