‘Fertiliser prices, cycloneto dampen maize output’

‘Fertiliser prices, cycloneto dampen maize output’

Post was last updated: June 1, 2023

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FewsNet) has projected national maize output to be about 20 to 30 percent below average due to lower use of fertilisers and the impact of Cyclone Freddy.

In its update of the Malawi Food Security Outlook, the United States Agency for International Development-funded initiative said as a consequence, supplies in markets are likely to be below average with prices ranging from K500 to K1 100 per kilogramme (kg) from May to September this year.

Reads the update in part: “Typical seasonal improvements in food security that occur at the start of the April-August harvesting period in Malawi have been significantly disrupted by a combination of factors, including the impacts of Cyclone Freddy, extended dry spells in Northern Region such asKaronga District, limited access to agricultural inputs, and high food and non-food inflation.”

“FewsNet estimates that total crop losses are in the range of 30 to 35 percent, on average in Southern Region districts.

However, in some localised areas within the Southern Region, crop losses were observed to be as high as 90 percent, according to the report.

FewsNet data shows that already, the situation is particularly severe in the Southern Region where maize prices are trending at K835 per kg compared to around K300 per kg in April 2022, K644 in the Central and Northern regions compared to K130 per kg at the same time the previous year.

In an interview on Tuesday, Consumers Association of Malawi executive director John Katipo said it will difficult for most consumers to afford maize, especially during the lean season.

“These are realities. Because of the poor yield of maize, we expect to see massive scarcities of maize as well towards the lean period between August  and February next year where prices will double the current market prices,” he said.

In February, Ministry of Agriculture preliminary crop estimates showed a projected 360 000MT maize surplus this season from the production of 3.56 million MT against the national requirement at 3.2 million MT.

But FewsNet says the country is already reporting low carryover stocks in the Strategic Grain Reserves with an estimated 60 000MT of the staple grain at the end of April 2023 against the required 217 000MT.

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