from ARIMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – PRICES of the staple maize grain have been significantly reducing across Mozambique with the harvesting season underway.
In contrast, a marked increase in the prices of other basic staple and processed products has been noted following restrictions between the borders with South Africa, as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Statistics from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), maize grain prices have in recent weeks begun seasonally decreasing by 30 percent and 55 percent in some markets.
Prices at other markets are projected to decline as the ongoing harvests trickle in.
“However, maize grain prices remain generally above five-year averages by 12-35 percent,” FEWS NET stated.
However, an increase in the prices of such staple products as potatoes, onions, oil, eggs, tomatoes and some processed products have increased by 50 percent on average.
The increase is on the back of that the movement of goods from neighbouring South Africa, to the west and southwest, would be restricted.
Nevertheless, it is expected that prices will decrease and stabilise above pre-border closure levels as goods continue to cross the border.
Prices of essential goods are being monitored to avoid price speculation.
As part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, all borders are closed except for movement of essential goods and cargo by licensed traders.
Mozambique had 91 confirmed cases, 34 recoveries and no casualties from COVID-19 as of the beginning of the week.
FEWS NET projected the imported food commodities from South Africa by informal traders to continue under constraint and the respective prices might also likely continue to rise.
Unofficial cross-border trade is still ongoing but at sub-average levels due to the increasing presence of border security personnel.
“The volume of remittances will also be reduced, particularly in the southern region where most migrants to South Africa originate,” the agency noted.
The developments are a dent to what has been a successful agriculture season by Mozambican standards.
According to the Water Requirements Satisfaction Index (WRSI) and field reports, national agricultural production for the 2019/20 season is expected to be close to the five-year average.
Overall, the drought in the southern region and persistence of abnormally high prices there as well as the escalating conflict in the northern Cabo Delgado province and more recently, the COVID-19 related restrictions impacting primarily poor urban households, are the main setbacks.
“Needs are expected to remain high as a result of multiple shocks during the 2019/2020 season,” FEWS NET stated.
There is also worry over the insecurity that continues in the Cabo Delgado.
Muslim extremists are perpetrating the violence in the resource-rich region, with hundreds of civilians killed and thousands of others displaced.
The Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) bemoaned that the attacks had affected food security in Cabo Delgado.
“This is due to restricted access to crops and the general fear of violence,” ACAPS stated.
Mozambique shares borders with Eswatini (south), Malawi (north-west), South Africa (south), Tanzania (north), Zambia (north-west) and Zimbabwe (west).
– CAJ News