Maize prices expected to go up

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    HARARE – The price of maize across Southern Africa is expected to increase as many poor households are expected to deplete their crops by August, two months earlier than usual, a study by Equity Axis shows.

    The research experts said that the expected early maize shortages will increase demand of grain, thus driving price up.

    “This will increase demand for staple food from markets earlier than usual and is expected to trigger maize price increases in several areas of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe,” the research company said.

    In Zimbabwe, maize prices have remained constant selling at $390 per metric tonne at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) since December 2016 to date as per government gazette. Govt is officially the sole buyer of  maize in Zimbabwe since pegging the price floor.

    According to Equity Axis, the retail price of maize is expected to be roughly 15 to 30 percent in the SADC region above the five-year average between August 2018 and January 2019 due to the envisaged short supply.

    Production of maize in the region has been lately affected by the recent climate changes, which resulted in low rainfall which only improved late into the season.

    In addition, the severe climate changes is expected to result in the outbreak of fall armyworms (FAW) that may lead to the loss of maize yields in the upcoming season, which would have an impact on the market price of the grain as demand due to intense demand.

    A latest study by AfDB shows that the FAW has the capacity to reduce maize yields by an average of 20 percent, at the same time affecting the quality of the grain.

    The study shows that Zambia lost a total of 222,586 hectares where the FAW bred and feasted on small corn and affected a total of 279,843 farmers.

    The importation of maize in Zimbabwe was reported to have reached a staggering $21 million as of June 30, 2018, which reflected that local supply is going down.

    FEWS NET earlier reported that most poor households are relying on government and partner agency humanitarian assistance for food. “An estimated 300,000 households are receiving 50 kg of maize monthly under the government’s Drought Mitigation Food Programme.

    Equity Axis News

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