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Maize prices soar

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KUSAMBA DZONZI

Maize prices have rocketed across the country, selling at between K15,000 and K18,000 per 50 kilogramme (kg) bag from K11,000 last month, The Daily Times has observed.

Snap checks in Thyolo, Blantyre, Lilongwe and Karonga indicated that traders have been reacting to the rising cost of fuel.

Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) has, meanwhile, indicated that the rising cost of fuel could be one of the contributing factors to the rising cost of the staple food.

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Cama Executive Director John Kapito said, sometimes, maize prices rise because the commodity is transported from one part of the country to another.

“We have suggested so many things that the government can do in order to cushion people [from current challenges] but they are not working [on them] at all,” Kapito said.

Meanwhile, Senior Chief Mlolo of Nsanje District has called for the quick opening of Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) markets in her area, stressing that hunger has stricken her subjects following the effects of Tropical Storm Ana, which has affected crop yield.

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In a letter dated June 24 2022, Mlolo has called for the opening of three markets to allow her subjects to have access to food, arguing that the price of a 50kg bag of maize has soared to K18,000.

“This, in turn, has resulted in my people sleeping on an empty stomach as they cannot afford to buy from vendors, whose prices are exorbitant,” the letter reads.

According to Mlolo, a 50kg bag of maize is selling at between K15,000 and K18,000.

Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Sameer Suleman said there is a shortage of maize across the country, as signified by the increase in maize prices.

“The government should quickly start distributing maize to affected areas.

“Tropical Storm Ana’s effects in the Shire Valley meant that people will not have anything to harvest this year. They need to be given maize in time. These are signs that we should not allow our maize to go outside the country,” he said.

Suleman said, apart from terminating the contract for the sale of maize to Zimbabwe, Admarc must abandon plans to sell maize, Kenya, a process which has already materialised.

Admarc Board Chairperson Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi confirmed receipt of the letter and said they were working on the matter.

“We are waiting for written authorisation that I should give to my interim general manager as the basis for our action to avoid being seen as disobeying what the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture ordered us to do; [that is] stopping us from selling maize to anyone following their fear that hunger is looming,” he said

A report from the Department of Disaster Management Affairs shows that Tropical Storm Ana affected 17 district councils and two city councils.

Chikwawa and Nsanje districts were most affected, accounting for 378,477 people and 117,490, respectively

The report further indicates that Chikwawa recorded the highest number of displaced households, at 10,159, seconded by Nsanje, which has recorded 8,871 affected households.

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