An agricultural expert, Tamani Nkhono Mvula, has projected continued stability in maize prices in the short-term as some vendors appear to have released the grain they were hoarding.
Maize prices have been stable in most parts of the country the past two months, ranging between K10, 000 and K11, 000 per 50 kilogramme (Kg) bag.
In September, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) indicated that the prices went up by six percent K180 per kg, about 20 percent lower than in September 2019, but 25 percent higher than in September 2018.
In an interview Wednesday, Mvula said the prices of maize might start rising at the peak of the lean season but supply remains stable now.
“This is an indication that the supply of maize is not as it has been presented that we do not have maize. It is a good signal that the prices will not go as high as we expected,” Mvula said.
The National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) says it has bought in excess of 51, 000 metric tonnes (MT) of the grain this year alone with capacity to buy more than 60, 000 MT in the coming months.
NFRA Chief Executive Officer, Nasinuku Saukira, said the firm is still replenishing its stock.
“We have close to K2 billion. We are waiting for government decision on how we move from here and if the prices remain constant, we may buy about 8, 000 MT,” Saukira said.
State-run grain trader, the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) last week said maize traders offered it more than 300, 000 (MT) of maize against 80, 000 MT it intended to purchase with the K22.2 billion it borrowed from one of the country’s commercial banks.
In a separate interview, Grain Traders and Processing Association chairperson, Grace Mhango, said going by the figures, maize prices may go down.
She then called on the government to give a green light for local traders to export some of the grain if they are to make profit.
“We definitely have excess and we have been talking to government to give us the chance to export because they cannot stop us from exporting when they know we have surplus,” she said.
A recent Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) report projected that a about 2.6 million people would face hunger in the country between October 2020 and March 2021, and that over 54, 000 MT of maize was needed.
Figures from Food and Agriculture Organisation show that proportion of households relying on food purchase as the main source of food increased by 6 percent from 43 percent in July to 49 percent in August.
Maize, Malawi’s staple commodity, heavily impacts the country’s economy, given that it accounts for 45.2 percent in the Consumer Price Index.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.