Malawi maize prices up, 50kg at K10, 000: Kapito warns of tough times

Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) has warned Malawians to brace up for tough times in the new year following upsurge of maize prices on the market.

With country’s grain marketer, Admarc currently rationing the never-available maize to only 10 kilogrammes per customer, vendors on parallel market have hiked prices with a 50kg bag at between K8, 000 and K10,000.

Admarc trades K80 per Kg with a 50kg bag at K4,000, meaning the vendors have hiked the commodity’s price with over 100 percent.

But in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times, Cama’s Excutive Director, John Kapito blamed President Joyce Banda for emptying the country’s grain silos, leading to unavailability of maize in Admarc depots.

Kapito: Brace for tough times
Kapito: Brace for tough times

Kapito  – named by Nyasa Times as ‘personality of the year’ – warned Malawians of hard times ahead with Banda on hot-seat as the country’s Head of State.

“Usually, if you consider her predecessor’s (late Bingu wa Mutharika) rule, maize prices at this time of year are supposed to be lower. But now, people can’t afford it and the maize is not even available. That’s the problem of having somebody who doesn’t know how to run affairs of State,” said Kapito.

Unavailability of cheap maize in Admarc depots has left people with no option but to face private traders’ who exorbitant prices thereby raising the cost of living and making the staple unaffordable to poor households.

The Famine Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet) October 2013 report released projects that the price of the staple will rise by 20 percent by December 2013 and 60 percent by March 2014 from the September 2013 average prices.

The situation puts government in awkward posiiton after it claimed would use funds realised from the presidential jet sale to buy maize but press reports suggest the  jet was never sold.

“Joyce Banda has problems with maize. This is not first time Malawi faced hunger under her poor administration; it happened when she was at Admarc, now she has emptied the silos for her political campaign. Expect the problems of hunger to persist as long as she remains the president,” said Kapito.

The human rights activist added: “With the way things are right now, it has proven that the fertiliser subsidy has even failed. Why pumping a lot of money into the program and yet people are still facing hunger?”

Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee last year said 10 percent of the country’s population 13 million people face food shortages due to low yields maize, prolonged dry spells and flooding, however the figures are expected to rise.

Meanwhile, several people are reported dead in some parts of the country including prisons due to hunger.

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