from MAVHUTO BANDA in Lilongwe, Malawi
LILONGWE, (CAJ News) – PRICES of the staple maize are stabilising in Malawi on the back of increased supplies and low demand from private traders.
For the first time this year, the price of the commodity across local markets is lower than the same period last year.
The price of pigeon peas, another key crop, has also decreased as the marketing season starts.
Maize grain prices have in recent days averaged MK168 (US$0,23) per kilogramme.
The World Food Programme (WFP), a United Nations (UN) agency, noted the national price had remained almost the same for the last five weeks but was 16 percent lower than the government-set minimum price of MK 200 per kilogram.
According to WFP research, in terms of trends, the current national average price is 2 percent lower than the same time last year but remains 12 percent higher than the five-year average.
Regionally, grain prices were relatively more expensive in the southern regions at MK 180 per kg compared to the central parts and the north at MK 154 and MK 136, respectively.
WFP highlighted transmission costs account for the higher prices in the south, as most of the grains are now being sourced from the central region, which contributed slightly more than half (52 percent) of the total production based on the 2019/2020 Second Round Agriculture Production Estimates Survey.
“Looking ahead, increased supplies, weakened demand from private traders, and low market dependency during the current post-harvest period are likely to keep prices on a stable trend in the coming weeks,” WFP projected.
Meanwhile, there were mixed outcomes in the price of pulses.
While the price of beans increased compared to this same time last month, the price of cowpeas remained the same.
The drop in the price of pigeon peas is attributed to an increase in supply.
Harvesting and marketing of the commodity are ongoing.
The average prices for pigeon peas, cowpeas and beans are MK 348, MK 452, and MK 803per kg.
WFP forecast that with the current weak demand, the prices of pigeon peas and cowpeas were likely to decrease or remain relatively stable in the coming weeks.
Last week, Malawi was one of four Southern African countries announced as beneficiaries of a UA100,4 million (about $138 million) crisis budget support package from the African Development Fund (ADF).
It benefitted alongside Madagascar, Mozambique and São Tomé &Príncipe in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Under the package, known as the Multi-Country COVID-19 Response Support Programme (MCRSP), Malawi will receive a concessional loan of UA17,87 million and a grant of UA15,03 million.
– CAJ News