Zambia maize flour selling like hot cakes - Pic. By Kondwani Magombo.jpg
Lilongwe, February 2, 2016, Mana: As maize price on the country's liberalized market has almost tripled compared to government set price, Zambian maize flour has found its way onto the Malawi market and traders are raking in a fortune out of it.
The maize flour, a product of Lusaka-based African Milling Company, was selling at MK5,000 per 25kg when it was first introduced on the market in Malawi early November last year.
But with the Malawi Kwacha sinking to rock-bottom depths, the maize price keeps going up by the day and so is the Zambian maize flour which is being sold at MK8,500 in Lilongwe's Msungwi Market as of Saturday, January 30 this year.
However, a random check conducted by Mana established that the range of prices for the imported maize flour is varying from one area to another with some traders selling at as high as MK9,500.
“There is no fixed price for the Zambian maize flour,” said a resident of Lilongwe's Area 25. “My neighbour bought it at MK8,000 just yesterday and today, look, I can't afford it because it's going at MK8,500 and we don't know how much it'll cost in the next seven days.”
A trader at the market said the Zambian maize flour price was likely to keep going up and up because it had now become difficult to get the flour into the country.
“Those who got the flour on a large scale back in November or in December are selling it at lower prices, even at MK7,500 per 25kg bag but recently the prices have gone up in Zambia due to high demand,” said the trader.
He added: “Besides, it is now becoming difficulty to get the maize flour through the borders hence, the price hike.”
But while others regard the cost of the Zambian maize floor as being on the higher side, many consider the 25kg bag of milled grain convenient as compared to the current cost of maize on the liberalized market.
Government's set price for the staple food continues to be MK110 per kilogramme thus pegging a 50kg of maize at MK5,500.
At a press conference early December on food security situation, preparedness and response, Malawi Vice President, Dr. Saulos Chilima, announced that government had bought 30,000MT and 22,193MT of maize from Zambia and locally, respectively, to supplement the country's maize stock in ADMARC depots and to stabilize the price of the grain on the market through ADMARC.
But with ADMARC selling maize in rations of 20 kg per buyer, coupled with reports of there being no maize in some depots, traders have taken advantage of the situation to hike the prices at will.
A random check Mana conducted revealed that currently, the maize prices on the parallel market range from MK11,000 to MK14,000 per 50 kg bag.
There are fears that the cost of the grain and flour will keep going up as the lean period continues but government has always assured the public that “there is enough maize in the country” and that “no one will die of hunger in the country.”