A monthly economic report for February published by investment management firm, Nico Asset Managers, has shown that maize prices were stable in most markets in the country and marginally declined in Blantyre.
The report shows that maize retail prices averaged K188 per kilogramme (kg), representing a 1 percent drop when compared to January prices and a 2 percent drop compared to February 2021 prices.
For example, in the month under review, minimum maize retail prices rose to K130 per kg in Jenda and Mzimba from K100 per kg in January while the maximum price had gone down to K240 per kg from K250 in January at Mbayani in Blantyre.
Another report by the International Food Policy Research Institute indicates that theresales in Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) markets showed that maize was still sold at K205 per kg which is 8 percent higher than the average retail price in January.
“In the first week of February 2022 prices continued to increase up until second week where retail prices started declining. Prices might have declined possibly because of humanitarian food assistance especially in the South as a result of floods which have negatively affected households.
“As of the end of February 2022, retail prices of maize in the Malawian markets were lower than in selected regional markets in eastern Africa and on Safex (the main grain futures market in South Africa). Prices in Lunzu were higher than on SAFEX and Zambia’s national average of February 2022,” the report reads.
However the developments contributed to the rise in headline inflation rate for the month to 13 percent compared to 12.1 percent in January.
Food inflation closed at 15.3 percent in February from 14.2 percent the previous month.
But in an interview agriculture expert Leonard Chimwaza said Malawians should expect prices of maize to keep rising in coming months.
“Revelations that the production of the crop will reduce by 14 percent this year should send signals that supply of the commodity will decline and therefore prices will up. The somewhat stability seen in February is because some people have stocks from last year which should be depleted soon.
“The number of people receiving humanitarian assistance is very low compared to the total population that dependon maize for food, however, some crops such as pumpkins are ripe in February and Marchand have helped cushion the prices,” Chimwaza said.