Maize prices have gone down by an average of 36.8 percent in the first six months of 2017, according to our findings.
This is in sharp contrast to the trend in the past two years when the country faced an acute shortage of the staple due to harsh weather conditions.
This year, Malawi is reported to have produced over 3.2 million kilogrammes of maize, substantially growing its supply to the market and in turn, influencing the continued drop in prices.
Figures from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) for instance show that in January 2017, average maize retail prices decreased to K217 per kilogramme and to K139 per Kilogramme in late May before another slight drop to K137 in June.
During the month of June 2017, price decreases were reported in major markets and an overall price decrease of two percent was recorded over the month.
However, a snap check in some traditional maize markets at the week end shows that the grain is on average now trading at K100 per kilogramme with others buying it even at as low as K70 per kilogramme.
“I may not tell how much it is per kilogram because I have not been buying in that context. But I know that for a five liter bucket, we are able to buy at K600 and for a 50 kilogramme bag, we are buying at K5, 000,” one consumer at Chadzunda Market in the outskirts of the commercial city, Blantyre said.
IFPRI commentaries in the past six months consistently show that maize prices in the northern region remained higher than in the centre and the south.
But Executive Director of the Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet), Taman Nkhono-Mvula, said despite existing disparities, maize prices may continue to drop in the short to medium terms as supply remain high.
He was quick to rule out concerns that the trend may affect production and output in the coming growing season Said Nkhono-Mvula: “nothing else can affect the output except the weather conditions and availability of farm inputs. The prices will have no impact at as maize remains predominantly a subsistent crop and this would imply that people do not grow mainly for the market, but rather they sell off the surplus.”
However, some studies have suggested that in the past years, some tobacco growers for instance have ditched the green gold for maize as a cash crop following years of low prices the leaf has been fetching on the market.
One farmer, Chiyembekezo Msukasuka earlier this year confirmed to have ditched tobacco for maize.
He, however, then foresaw a drop in overall maize prices due to high levels of production which to him would imply another loss.
However, the bumper maize harvest has greatly played a role in bringing down inflation in the past months as it constitutes a large portion of the food basket, according to the National Statistical Office (NSO).
Inflation dropped to 11.3 percent from 12.3 percent recorded in June. This is better than the 22.6 percent recorded in June 2016.