The country’s cost of living for the past month of June has slightly gone done by 0.56% due to significant price fall of seasonal agricultural produces, Malawi brief has established.
In its monthly Basic Needs Basket (BNB) survey for June 2016 released last Thursday, the country’s social and economic monitoring body, Center For Social Concern (CFSC) has described the drop as insignificant for low income earners who are still facing economic challenges.
This is because the gap between the cost of living and what they get at the end of the month is too wide.
More especially during the time of food shortage as maize is also the main commodity which increases the cost of living in Malawi.
The CFSC BNB report which is titled, “POLITICAL COMMITMENT, VITAL IN ENDING POVERTY AND HUNGER IN MALAWI” said that poverty and hunger go together are intimately connected which is why the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target elimination of both as the poverty line is $1.90 per day which the majority of Malawians are below it.
“The month of June has seen slight reduction in the cost of living from national average of MK166, 597 in May to MK165, 660 in June, representing a 0.56% decrease. Four commodities such as maize, tomatoes, onions and sugar had distinct figures which contributed to changes in the cost of living.
“Among these, on average, maize and sugar had their prices increased by 17% within a month; prices for tomato and onions dropped by 30% within the same month. Although maize, which is usually the main determinant increased with a national average of 23% among the cities, it failed to increase the cost of living due to a significant reduction price fall of seasonal agricultural produce such as tomato and onions which, between May and June, the prices dropped by 28% and 32% respectively.
“On average, during the month of June, the cost of living for Blantyre, and Mangochi increased by 0.03% and 4.3% respectively while that for Lilongwe, Zomba, Mzuzu and Karonga dropped by 2%, 0.26%, 1.9% and 4% respectively between May and June,” read the CFSC survey in part.
To safeguard the livelihoods of Malawians from economic wide effects of climate change, CFSC believes that there is need for collaborative efforts by all stakeholders to institute and implement pragmatic short, medium and long term strategies that will ameliorate peoples suffering and ensure food security at all the times.
The social monitoring body said efforts to provide farmers in the flood and drought affected areas with early maturing maize seeds, cassava cuttings and sweet potato vines already undertaken by various stakeholders should be stepped up so that farmers can make use of residual moisture and also engage in winter cropping.
“There is need that government take up a leading role in this task and ensure that necessary extension advisory services are available since in most areas government extension workers are virtually none existent.
“Furthermore, the government should also consider introducing Income Generating Activates (IGAs) in the flood and drought affected areas so that the people are empowered to recover their livelihoods and be weaned off from the hand-outs which they are relying on currently.
‘It is commendable that, as a short term measure, Illovo Sugar Group has planted maize that can cover part of the deficit instead of using much of the already scarce forex for maize importation. Serious investment in food crop diversification and irrigation farming (like the likes of Green Belt Initiative) should also be highly encouraged and be prioritized by government as it is one of the key strategies that promise to solve Malawi’s perennial food insecurity issues,” concluded CFSC.