Random spot checks in selected local markets across the country indicate that the price of maize, in the past two months, has almost doubled from K32 000 in October 2023 to as wild as K60 000 this month.
There are deep frustrations among the locals in the country who, against the effects of 44 percent devaluation of local currency, have witnessed their incomes shrink as they have to balance several expenditures to make their ends meet.
The Centre for Social Concern recently published a notice which indicated that the lowest price for a 50kg bag of maize on the market is K50 000.
Our reporters have been in various locations and they specifically pin that maize prices have increased in the Eastern Region districts of Zomba and Machinga, bringing frustrations among the citizenry.
Even in the North, particularly Mzuzu City and Rumphi District, many people interviewed expressed their deep frustrations.
Maize prices have recently been on a steady increase and this has been a major contributing factor to a continuous rise in inflation which is currently at 33.1 percent, which is the highest since 2013.
The current maize prices are the highest when compared to the preceding five years from 2023, according to a fresh assessment by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) and confirmed by the Centre for Social Concern.
This is quite a disturbing news considering that an estimated 4.4 million people are expected
to face hunger in the 2023/24 consumption period.
This also comes at a time when reports show that combined effects of El Nino are anticipated to cost the country a whooping K337 billion in maize production loss.
“By the end of November 2023, the prices of the maize staple were trending at a range of 30 to 80 percent above last year  and 170 to 250 percent above the five-year average in Fewsnet-monitored markets,” reads in part the assessment.
According to the assessment, while some month-on-month maize price stability was recorded between October and November 2023, the situation is a temporary relief driven by the start of humanitarian assistance and the release of more stock on the market by farmers.
The assessment indicates that maize prices will continue to be on the rise owing to the 44 percent devaluation of the Malawi kwacha compounded by seasonal increases, especially as Malawi has entered the peak lean season between December 2023 and March 2024.
Such instances have the potential to derail the achievement of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number two which aims at ending hunger and ensuring that everybody has easy access to basic, safe and nutritious foods by 2030.
Centre for Social Concern project officer Kondwani Hara said in a separate interview that the significance of maize in the lives of Malawians cannot be overstated.
“It is crucial to recognise that a significant portion of the population does not earn anywhere near close to the K50 000 minimum wage, the very amount required to purchase a 50 kg bag of maize,” he said.
Earlier, Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale said affordable maize through price stabilisation intervention would be offered to the public by the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc).
The State produce trader is rationing maize sales to 25 kg per single buyer in some areas. But in some scenarios, vendors have been making killing by purchasing Admarc maize bulks and resell it to people.