Cyclone Freddy pushes maize prices 16% up
Retail prices for maize increased by 16 percent in March 2023, according to International Food Policy Research Institute (Ifpri) Malawi Monthly Maize Market Report released on Friday.
The price spike was due to, among other factors, the effects of Cyclone Freddy, which brought heavy rains to the Southern Region, causing floods.
Unlike in recent years, the average price of maize continued to rise throughout March and only began to drop towards the end of the month as newly harvested maize started coming onto the market in the Southern Region.
“In the last week of March, retail prices of maize averaged K733/kg. This is 16 percent higher than a month earlier and 283 percent higher than a year earlier. The highest weekly average retail price (K945/kg) was reported in Nsanje market in the third week of March.
“Mchinji and Chitipa markets reported the lowest price of K580/kg in the first week of the month, Bangula and Mzuzu markets recorded the highest increase in weekly average retail maize prices (36 percent) between the end of February 2023 and the end of March 2023,” the report reads.
According to the report, the average retail price of maize was highest in the Southern Region, at K729/kg in March, nine percent and 14 percent more expensive than in the Centre, which was K671/kg, and the North, at K640/ kg, respectively.
“The difference was amplified by the effects of Cyclone Freddy… The resultant damage to homes, crops and transport infrastructure led to local shortages of maize in third week of the month. This was followed by a smaller price spike in the Central Region in the following week, resulting from increased demand from the South,” the report reads further.
However, with most areas in the Southern Region beginning to harvest, maize prices in the region declined sharply in the final week of March.
To the contrary, in the last three days of March, there was an upward trend in maize prices in the Northern Region due to local scarcity of maize, the report notes.
Centre for Social Concern Programmes Coordinator responsible for economic governance Bernard Mphepo said he is not surprised with the upsurge, adding that their expectation is that maize prices will continue shooting despite that harvesting has started in some districts.
“The general expectation was that the prices of maize would start going down from the month of March to September this year. But, due to the effects of Cyclone Freddy and mismanagement of the Affordable Inputs programme, the prices will continue going up,” he said.