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Maize prices pick up further

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Maize prices have risen slightly about K88 per kilogramme (kg) to K240 per kg as at end January from K152 in December last year.

Spot checks in some markets in the major cities of the country show that a 50 kg bag is being sold at between K11, 000 and K12, 000.

One of the maize vendors at Mbayan in Blantyre, Agness Sambani, attributes the surge in prices to seasonality of the product and speculation of food insecurity this year due to harsh weather conditions.

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“People thought either the country will be food insecure or the harvesting season will delay; so, they withheld maize to sell at a higher price,” she said.

Another trader Esau Makini from Ndirande shared Sambani’s sentiments but added that although the price is high, it started going down towards the end of last month.

The maize price was lowest in the north selling below K9, 000 per 50 kg bag, seconded by the Central Region where the price averaged K9,500 for a 50 kg bag.

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This is in line with December maize prices report from International Food Policy Research Institute (Ifpri), which indicated that maize continues to sell at highest retail prices in the south because of the cost of transporting it from the central, where it is purchased on wholesale.

Grain Traders and Processors Association Chairperson Grace Mijiga Mhango said such increases were expected in the lean period.

“To stabilise prices, government should not put an export ban because, if they do, it creates fears then maize prices rise,” she said.

Maize remains Malawi’s staple grain and weighs heavily in the consumer price index, a basket of calculating inflation.

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