from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – MAIZE grain prices at most Mozambican markets have exceeded the five-year average because of crop loss due to floods and a delayed 2021/2022 harvest.
The availability of staple foods in local markets remains below normal, resulting in higher than typical maize grain prices in April and reduced household purchasing power.
Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) confirmed the trends, which come as a setback to thousands of people returning to their homes after initial displacement by conflict.
Price data from the Agricultural Market Information System (or SIMA) show that maize grain prices in around 60 percent of monitored markets rose or remained stable from March to April.
Unlike this year, that is when prices typically decline.
In the Chókwe market, maize grain prices increased by 14 percent followed by the Maputo market, where maize grain prices increased by 5 percent.
Both markets sell the commodity for around 24MT/kg (US$0,38).
Compared to last year, maize grain prices in April were mixed, with monitored markets registering prices either above or below last year, FEWS NET noted.
Around 60 percent of monitored markets in April also reported maize grain prices above the five-year average, while 40 percent of markets had prices lower than the five-year average.
The two markets mentioned above sell maize meal for 50MT/kg.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in mid-May reported that excessive rainfall, overflow of rivers, storms/cyclones, irregular rainfall distribution as well as long dry spells affected around 244 000 hectares of crops, especially maize, peanuts, and beans.
This constitutes around 4,6 percent of the total planted area.
Excessive rainfall was reported to be the most damaging phenomenon.
Mozambique suffered some storms, namely Ana and Dumako, as well Cyclone Gombe earlier this year.
Meanwhile, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, refugee are beginning to return to their homes following improvements in security.
They are projected to bear the brunt of the food insecurity.
According to the latest weekly International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrices data, between end of April and mid-May, over 7 800 internally-displaced people (IDPs) returned, around 70 percent of the people on the move reported an intention to return.
FEWS NET noted returning households were likely to continue to rely on humanitarian assistance to fill food consumption gaps until they begin engaging in typical food and income-earning opportunities.
The rising prices of fuel are worsening matters.
Late May, government increased cooking gas, gasoline, diesel, and paraffin prices by 6,3 percent, 7,6 percent, 11,3 percent, and 42,5 percent respectively.
Prices of some basic products and services, such as bread and transport, have been increasing.
Government at the time of going to press ruled out subsidizing the bread and fuel price.
There are fears the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on the global market and supply would worsen the situation.
– CAJ News