MAIZE supply on the market has decreased due to anticipated poor harvests caused by the low rainfall experienced in the country from the start of the season up to February, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) has reported.
In its February report FEWSNET said local suppliers would most likely hold on to grain due to expected weak harvests in cereal-deficit areas, increasing distances to source markets.
In such areas people have started sourcing maize from relatively distant markets, pushing up prices.
However, prices are expected to trend towards average from harvest time in April to September.
“Maize grain supply by farmers and traders has decreased on most markets because of the poor and erratic seasonal rainfall. Despite this, maize grain prices continue to be low and below last year’s (prices) and the five-year average price,” FEWSNET said.
The prices are lower than the comparative periods because overall national maize supplies remained above-average following a significantly above-average 2017 harvest.
Following a prolonged period of stable prices for much of the 2017/18 marketing season, cereal prices started increasing from end of December into January. This is also attributed to the dryness and anticipated poor harvests.
In January, maize grain prices in FEWSNET sentinel markets averaged $0,35/kg. Maize meal availability is not uniform even across cereal-deficit areas. Most retail outlets are out of stock, a development partly attributed to low demand because households cannot afford to purchase the maize.
The increasing use of mobile money transfers to pay for goods and services is costing buyers more because of the high premiums associated with these modes of payment.
Significantly above-average national maize carry-over stocks are expected into the next marketing year (2018/19).
By end of January, typical green crop consumption was not available across most parts of the country due to the poor rainfall. Sources of income through on-farm casual labour were adversely affected.
Some poor households are relying on barter trade to access food. Unfortunately, the terms of trade are largely unfavorable for poor households.
Most poor households are relying on government and humanitarian assistance for food. An estimated 300 000 households are receiving 50 kg of maize monthly under government’s Drought Mitigation Food Programme. – By Farai Mabeza