MALAWI – The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has reported that maize prices eased in April 2023 by an average of 19 percent giving relief to consumers, The Nation has reported.
The report follows an evaluation of data collected by the institute from 26 markets nationwide.
From the results, on average, prices of maize declined by 15 percent for old maize and nine percent for newly harvested maize in April.
According to IFPRI, by the end of April, newly harvested maize was available in all monitored markets and sold at a discount of 20 to 30 percent compared to old maize.
Maize is an important crop in the country’s economy and as part of the food component, contributes about 53 percent to the Consumer Price Index and an aggregate basket of goods and services that is used for computing inflation.
However, the country has been grappling with maize shortage following low production as well as a recent catastrophic Tropical Cyclone Freddy.
The report, therefore, comes as a relief to consumers after the country faced a 24% increase in maize retail prices in the period between January and February 2023 underpinned by an acute shortage in the state’s reserve stocks.
During the period, maize prices increased by 24% month-on-month to an average of K633 (US$0.63) per kilogram (kg), a historic high value that was 237% higher compared to the same period in 2022.
In addition, IFRI data indicated that the quoted value was average, noting that other markets sold the commodity as higher as over K700 per kg while others sold at a relatively lower cost of K531.
However, the current data report by IFPRI shows that old maize decreased from K734 per kilogram (kg) to K626 per kg between the final weeks of March and April while newly harvested maize declined from K533 per kg to K483 per kg.
“In contrast to the previous season, there was a sharp decline in average maize prices in April, albeit from a much higher maximum. This is a typical pattern when newly harvested maize comes to market,” the statement read.
IFPRI further said on average, the Central Region experienced the highest prices of new maize as harvesting in the Central Highlands, which is only starting, is expected to be low compared to last year due to a smaller planted hectarage and late deliveries of subsidized fertilizer.
However, Consumers Association of Malawi executive director John Kapito feared maize prices will not be sustained for a long period as the country registered poor harvest due to inadequate farm inputs and the impact of Tropical Cyclone Freddy that hit the country in mid-March.