Malawi

Minimum Expenditure Basket in Malawi - Round 28: 3rd to 7th May 2021 - A look at Food Prices and Availability in Times of COVID-19

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Highlights

• The Survival Minimum Expenditure Baskets (SMEBs) for urban areas and the Rural South increased since the last round of data collection, mainly due to increases in the prices of selected food commodities (beans and vegetables) and non-food items (milling, electrical charging, and bathing soap). The SMEBs for the Rural North and Rural Centre have decreased due to a fall in the prices of food items (maize, cassava, vegetables, and cooking oil) and non-food items (milling and fuelwood).

• Nationally, the average maize price has marginally increased from MK 130 per kg in Round 27 to an average of MK 132 per kg in Round 28 of data collection. This slight price increase has likely been induced by a rise in maize prices in the Rural South after the announcement by ADMARC to start purchasing maize grain in this area at a farmgate price of MK 150 per kg.

• The prices of pulses (beans, cowpeas, and pigeon peas) have all increased by roughly 8 percent, 24 percent, and 11 percent, respectively, compared to the previous round. The reduced supply due to prolonged rainfall and post-harvest loss as well as the consumption of green pulses may have increased the demand for these pulses as harvesting is winding up in most areas.

Background

During this reporting period, the country continued administering COVID-19 vaccinations as part of its national campaign, which was launched by the State President on the 11th of March, with the vaccine now available to anyone over the age of 18. Throughout this reporting period, the number of reported COVID-19 positive cases continue to decline in the country. Between the 23rd of April 2021 (end of MEB Round 27 data collection) and the 7th of May 2021 (end of MEB Round 28 data collection), the number of active reported cases of COVID-19 has decreased by over 14 percent. On the 20th of April 2021, the Government eased COVID-19 restrictions that were put in place to halt the spread of the pandemic. The ease on restrictions may potentially affect the prices of both food and non-food commodities, lowering the prices in one market while rising in others as markets adjust to reach their equilibriums. Despite this, the State of National Disaster, which was declared on the 12th of January 2021, remain in effect as the Government attempts to prevent a third wave.