After a short period of stability in August, retail prices for Malawi’s staple crop, maize, were on the rise again in September by an average three percent.
This is according to International Food Policy Research Institute (Ifpri) Malawi which says in its October Market Report that on average, maize price was around K334 per kg.
Across the markets, Chitipa recorded the highest price increase at 29 percent and on the other hand, some markets such as Mzuzu, Mwanza, and Bangula recorded price declines of as much as 18 percent.
“As of the end of September, retail prices of maize in Malawian markets were lower than in selected regional markets in eastern Africa and Mozambique.
“However, prices in Malawian markets were higher than Zambia’s national average for the month of September 2022,” reads the report in part.
According to the report, maize continues to sell the highest in the South Region.
However, according to Ifpri prices picked up in all the regions in the last week of September.
“Prices in the North were also unusually higher than in the Centre during the month. As of the end of September, prices averaged K345 per kg in the South, K302 per kg in the centre and K306 per kg in the North,” reads the report in part.
Currently, the government through the National Food Reserve Agency is buying maize at a minimum price of K300 per kg.
Owing to the lower prices, some traders have said it is not surprising that maize exports have increased in recent times.
At Ekwendeni Trading Centre in Mzimba for example, bags of maize, groundnuts and soya are stacked on the roadside of M1 Road ready for transportation to Tanzania and Zambia.
One of the vendors Robert Mkandawire said he was buying from farmers at prices ranging between K220 and K250 per kg and it would not make business sense to sell at K300 per kg to the government.
“Most traders are selling their maize and other commodities to other countries because prices are fair there. Look at this; I buy at K250 per kg from a farmer, it does not make business sense to sell at K300 per kg, it’s a loss to me considering the transportation and other costs,” he said.
However, maize exports remain banned.
Meanwhile, Malawi Police Service said it has formed a special patrol team to corner perpetrators in border districts.