MAIZE PRICES SIGNIFICANTLY GO DOWN BEFORE THE START OF HARVEST PERIOD

BY BANTHU TIMES REPORTER 20/02/2014President Joyce Banda listens attentively to one of the beneficiaries of farmers passing on goats to new beneficiaries at Robert Mseteka Village in Mzimba-pic by Lisa Vintulla

President Joyce Banda and her Finance Minister Maxwell Mkwezalamba have every reason to smile as for the first time in the dawn of multiparty era, Prices for the country’s staple food, maize, have started to come down with the commodity selling as low as K4000 per 50kg bag, even before the start of the harvest season, according to recent media reports.

A snap survey that was carried by The Business Times of Blantyre Newspapers Limited indicates some of the districts in the southern region showed that the staple food is readily available in produce markets.

The Times Group reveals the commodity which hit a peak of K9,000 late last year, is selling at prices between K4,000 and K6,500 per 50kg bag.

Amos Miliwadi, a vendor at Manase in Blantyre told The Business Times that the sudden fall in maize prices is due to the improved supply of the commodity on the market. According to Miliwadi, many people had bought the commodity during last year’s harvest season in anticipation of making a killing in the lean period months of January and February.

“People had anticipated the grain to hit K15,000 per 50 kg bag. So when January came, many people released their grain at the same time, resulting in oversupply, hence weakening the prices,” said Miliwadi.

Frank Jonasi, a vendor at Baluti in the commercial capital attributed the price fall to availability of the grain in Admarc markets where it is even cheaper.

“Because of that, we as vendors have very few people buying from us as they opt for Admarc. So to remain in business, we have no option but to reduce the price.

“Again, it must be noted that very soon people will be harvesting so we need to clear the warehouses so that we buy new grain,” said Jonasi.

It further noted that inflation is expected to begin a deceleration in March as a result of the expected seasonal appreciation of the kwacha and improvements in the food supply situation.

However, members noted risks to inflation emanating from fiscal pressures during the election period. In light of the foregoing, and the need to allow more time for the recent monetary policy measures to work through the economy, the MPC resolved to keep its monetary policy stance unchanged, read MPC minutes for last week.

Capital Hill expects inflation to hit single digits this year but the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) says that is very unlikely.