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Maize prices jump 12 percent in May


Maize prices jumped by 12 percent in May to average K204 per kilogramme (kg) despite being a harvest period, the International Food Policy Research Institute (Ifpri) has said.

This, according to Ifpri, is about 61 percent higher than during the same month last year and a significant deviation from the typical pattern of falling post-harvest prices likely related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In its May 2022 Malawi Maize Market Report, Ifpri says the highest maize retail price was recorded in Mwanza at K275/kg while the lowest was recorded in Mzimba, Mzuzu, Rumphi, Chiringa and Liwonde at 150/kg.

“Despite price increases across markets ranging from five percent in Chikwawa to as high as 60 percent in Liwonde, two markets (Chimbiya and Mitundu) registered price declines of eight and 10 percent, respectively,” Ifpri says.

According to the report, maize continues to sell at highest retail prices in the South, adding that maize retail prices in the North were more unstable, especially in the last two weeks of the month.

For example, as at the end of May, prices in the South averaged K210/ kg, in the Centre averaged K189/kg, while in the North prices averaged K183/kg.

Despite the spike in prices, local maize remains lowly priced as compared to prices of the grain in some parts of the region.

Commenting on the sudden surge of maize prices this year, Mwapata Institute Executive Director William Chadza attributed the development to low yields in the just ended growing season, affected by poor access to agricultural inputs and the late onset of rains.

Chadza said maize production was also affected by tropical storms Ana and Gombe which hit Malawi early this year.

“Again the higher prices could be fuelled by anticipation that growers may not be able to produce enough maize in the next growing season with the sharp rise in fertiliser prices,” Chadza said.

The Ministry of Agriculture recently said this year’s maize output is expected to fall by around 14 percent.

Speaking after touring maize silos at the National Food Reserve Agency in Lilongwe last month, President Lazarus Chakwera said Malawi is still food secure despite a drop in maize production from 4.5 million metric tonnes last year to 3.8 million metric tonnes this year.

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