Prices of maize, the country’s staple grain, have shown a declining trend following increased availability attributed to relief efforts, functionally Admarc and the lifting of an import ban.
Research done one of the country’s leading dailies, The Nation, found that availability of maize in Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) outlets and distribution of free maize to food-insecure families by the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) have increased availability and eased demand in some markets across the Northern Region, especially in Karonga and Chitipa districts.
In their study, The Nation has spoken with several vendors and consumers across the country and found considerable decline in the price of maize.
Their research has been corroborated Grain Traders Association of Malawi president Grace Mijiga-Mhango confirmed that maize prices were shifting downwards due to formal imports that have begun trickling in.
She said: “We had a tour recently across the country, in places where Admarc has maize, prices from vendors go down. However, the moment vendors know that there is no maize in Admarc depots, the prices go up.
“Similarly, where Dodma is distributing maize, prices also go down. But overall, we expect that the prices will continue to go down once more maize arrives from Tanzania.”
Mijiga-Mhango further said as people start consuming pumpkins and other farm produce, the demand for maize will decline further.
“This also meaning, prices will continue going down,” she said.
On whether government plans to release more maize from SGRs, Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale said yesterday they are committed to make it available and ensure that every Malawian has access to affordable food.
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He said: “For this reason, the ministry, through Admarc, will continue to distribute maize across the country as a way of stabilising prices.
“As more maize is found in Admarc, together with maize being given by Dodma, allowing importation of maize and flour from other countries and helping people have money through social cash transfer programmes.”
The minister further said due to availability of maize, there will be a significant drop in flour prices across the country.
“This drop in price will continue to happen as the government continues to make maize and flour available across the country,” he said.
In December last year, the SGR Committee allocated 10 000 metric tonnes (MT) of maize to Admarc to be distributed in its 240 markets.
Admarc markets in the Northern Region each received 75 metric tonnes (MT) while outlets in the Central and Southern regions each received 85 metric tonnes.
According to the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee over 4.4 million people are at risk of acute hunger this year due to maize shortage.