A latest Cost of a Plate of Food 2020 report by the World Food Programme (WFP) has revealed that Malawi’s food prices are among the highest in the world.
According to the report, if people in New York State had to pay the same percentage of the average income on a plate of food as someone in Malawi, that meal would cost them $74 (about K55,500).
WFP says in New York State, ingredients for a simple meal -perhaps a soup or a simple stew-costs just 0.6 percent of someone’s income.
Malawi’s cost of a plate of food is the third most expensive in the world just after South Sudan and Burundi at $392.82 and $90.73, respectively.
Of the three neighbouring countries, Zambia has softer food price at $18.59 while Tanzania is at $19.91 and Mozambique at $46.19.
WFP Executive Director David Beasley said the report exposes the destructive impact of conflict, climate change and economic crises, now compounded by Covid-19, in driving up hunger.
“It’s the most vulnerable people who feel the worst effects. Their lives were already on the edge–prior to the coronavirus pandemic we were looking at the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II–and now their plight is so much worse as the pandemic threatens nothing less than a humanitarian catastrophe,” Beasley said.
He observed that people in urban areas are now highly susceptible too, with Covid-19 leading to huge rises in unemployment, rendering people powerless to use the markets they depend on for food.
“For millions of people, missing a day’s wages means missing a day’s worth of food, for themselves and their children. This can also cause rising social tensions and instability,” Beasley said.
According to WFP, with more investment in the short term to support people from the fallout of Covid-19, and greater emphasis on building sustainable food systems in the long term as a foundation for access to affordable, nutritious food, we can break down the inequalities that underpin the results in the report.
In the country with the most expensive plate of food, South Sudan, violence in the east has already displaced more than 60,000 people and is crippling harvests and livelihoods. This has combined with Covid-19 and climate shock to create the threat of famine.
The Cost of a Plate of Food 2020 report is released as WFP estimates that the lives and livelihoods of up to 270 million people will be under severe threat in 2020, unless immediate action is taken to tackle the pandemic.
Speaking on Saturday when he launched the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP), President Lazarus Chakwera said his government is committed to ensuring that hunger becomes a thing of the past.