from ARIMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – PRICES of the staple maize have continued an upward trend in Mozambique on the back of ongoing humanitarian assistance and above-average second season harvest as well as the ongoing militancy by suspected Islamist groups north of the country.
The prices of the commodity have been escalating from July to August in typical surplus markets in the central and northern regions reflecting below-average maize grain availability due to below-average supply.
According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), August maize grain prices in all monitored markets were 39 percent above last year’s prices on average, and 28 percent above the five-year average.
The price of maize has reached a high of MZN 30 per kilogramme. The price has been recorded at the markets in Chokwe and Pemba in the south and north respectively.
“As parts of the country are experiencing a typically early lean season conditions rapid maize grain price increases are expected through February 2020,” the provider of information and analysis on food insecurity stated.
The prices of maize meal and rice, which are also the most important food commodities for poor, are also rising.
Maize meal prices have escalated to MZM 90 per kg, with Pemba again having the highest price for the commodity.
Rice is selling as high as MZM 55 kg in Mocuba, a major market in Zambezia Province in the central coastal region.
The decline in the Southern African country’s agricultural output is blamed on the tropical cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which disrupted the 2019 farming season.
Mozambique is also experiencing rising terror attacks in the northern Cabo Delgado province.
In addition to the bloodbath that has claimed over 200 lives since late 2017, farming has significantly been affected.
According to the international and national forecasts, the start of the 2019/20 rainy season will most likely be below average with a potential for a late and erratic onset in the central and southern areas.
FEWS NET stated the delays in the start of season will likely result in reduced area planted.
It also warned of “a near average number” of cyclone strikes in the disaster-prone country.
The country at least received a major financial boost earlier this week after the World Bank approved an equivalent of $130 million in grants under the aegis of the Crisis Response Window of the International Development Association (IDA).
This is in support of the government of Mozambique’s Cyclones Idai and Kenneth Emergency Recovery and Resilience Project.
A complementary contribution of $60 million from the Netherlands is foreseen, and co-financing discussions with Germany are underway.
These funds will be utilized in the recovery of public and private infrastructure, restore livelihoods, and strengthen climate resilience in the areas most affected by the cyclones earlier this year.
Mark Lundell, World Bank Country Director for Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, reminded that more than 1,7 million people were affected by both extreme weather events, with damages and losses amounting to $3 billion.
“Given the severity of the impacts, our response has been swift and multi-sectorial,” he said.
Brenden Jongman, Disaster Risk Management Specialist and the project’s co-task team leader, said considering the country’s vulnerability to cyclical climate shocks, the World Bank would continue its efforts of building climate resilience in the city of Beira, an important economic hub for the country.
“The project will build on existing World Bank engagements in the city and repair and significantly strengthen coastal protection, as well as expand the city’s drainage systems,” he said.
– CAJ News