1. Staple foods
i. Maize Grain
The average selling price of maize grain across the CTP districts in the past fortnight remained at $0.40/kg ($7.00 per bucket). The price of maize has remained stable during the period of end of July up to mid – August 2016. The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is the prominent supplier of maize grain across all the districts. Private or informal traders continue to sell the commodity. GMB is now buying grain from local farmers from wards with better harvests who have excess grain. At informal markets a bucket (17.5kg) of maize is being sold at $7 that translates to $0.40/kg. In Matebeleland North province, GMB has since closed the satellite points citing viability issues as the sales are very low. Figure 1 shows the trends on the prices of maize grain across the CTP provinces.
ii. Maize Grain Price Trends at District level
The selling price of maize grain remained the same in all the districts except in Gokwe North, Insiza, Nkayi and Masvingo. Gokwe North and Masvingo experienced an increase in the selling price of maize grain from $0.34/kg to $0.36/kg and $0.35/kg to $0.36/kg respectively. In Gokwe North, the increase was attributed to the increase in commercial activities in the district especially the harvesting and selling of cotton by the cotton farmers in the district, thus resulting in an increase in the demand for commodities in the district. Nkayi and Insiza districts experienced a drop in the selling price $0.34/kg to $ 0.28/kg and $0.50/kg to $0.45/kg respectively. Matabeleland South had the highest average price for maize grain which was selling at $0.45/kg, in comparison to all the other provinces that had lower average prices.
In Lupane, Gwanda, Insiza and Matobo maize grain was selling at an average price of $0.45/kg, which is the highest price across the CTP districts. In Zaka, private traders indicated that they are getting their supplies in maize grain mainly from Bindura. GMB in Zaka is yet to introduce and accept Ecocash as a mode of payment by consumers when purchasing grain, a platform which they said will be available soon. However, in Gutu and Shurugwi, the GMB is accepting payments via Ecocash, making it easy on the part of the consumers to purchase the grain. Private traders are accepting payment through Ecocash as well in these two districts, i.e. Gutu and Shurugwi.
iii. Maize meal
The average selling price of maize meal remained unchanged at $0.58/kg from that of mid-July. The commodity is mainly supplied by retailers and informal traders. Maize meal is readily available across all the four provinces, though there is a variation in terms of the prices of the commodity, with Matebeleland North and Matebeleland South recording the highest average prices of $0.62/kg. Maize meal in Matebeleland South is available both at GMB and at retailers’ outlets. Major business centres in the provinces have stocks of mealie meal which is meeting the local demand. Retailers are the major players selling mealie meal at a price ranging from $0.50 to $0.62 per kg. Interviewed retailers in the provinces pointed out that they get mealie meal supply from wholesalers in areas that are a distance of an average of 40km from their own locality. Grain Marketing Board has stocks of mealie meal at a price of $23.22/50kg ($0.46/kg) and a 10kg is being sold at $5, therefore the average mealie meal price is 0.48/kg.
iv. Maize Meal price trends at district level
No price changes were noted from that of end-July across all the districts except Beitbridge where it rose to $0.62/kg from $0.58/kg. Overall, maize meal in all districts is readily available. The commodity is predominantly supplied by retailers’ outlets that source the commodity from outside their respective areas for resell. GMB is also selling maize meal at subsidised price of $0.48/kg. In Zaka, Silo continued to be the most favourable brand selling at $0.47/kg and continued to be readily available in 4 out of the 5 market sites surveyed. On the other hand in Mberengwa, the price of maize meal still remains stable at $0.55/kg despite the increase in demand and the enhanced purchasing power. In Masvingo district, maize meal is largely purchased from Masvingo Urban while in Shurugwi, the commodity is mainly purchased in Gweru, which is 40km away from Shurugwi. In Mberengwa, maize meal is readily available in local shops; the recent Cash Transfer has resulted in an increased uptake of maize meal by CTP beneficiaries in the recipient wards as reported by local traders in the district. In Gokwe South district, maize meal is selling at $0.60/kg of maize meal. This high price of the commodity is as a result of the drop in the number of selling points by GMB from 10 to 5 due to less activity at most points in the district, which is a 50% drop in the number of GMB selling points.
v. Small Grains
Sorghum: The commodity was available in the following districts; Shurugwi, Gokwe South, Gwanda, Beitbridge and Lupane. The average selling price of sorghum during the reporting period was $0.36/kg, which was a huge fall of the price from $0.61/kg which was the cost of the commodity in the end of July reporting period. This is encouraging as this will become affordable to the consumers, hence aiding to a balanced and nutritious diet as well. The commodity, even, in the districts where it is available, remains scarce, for instance in Mberengwa district.
Millet- The product was only available in 7 out of the 15 CTP districts namely Zaka, Shurugwi, Mberengwa, Gokwe South, Gwanda, Beitbridge, Umguza and Lupane. The commodity is selling at an average price of $0.51/kg which is a reduction of $0.13 from $0.64/kg in end of July reporting period. For both sorghum and millet, the decrease in price can be attributed to low demand from the consumers. In Lupane, the commodity is mainly being sold by informal traders, while at GMB; the product is slowly running out. Rice remains available in all districts. The price of the product is $0.95/kg, which was the same cost as during the previous reporting period in end of July.