Dar es Salaam — Wholesale prices for maize have increased slightly, despite good harvests in the 2017/18 season and adequate supply, the Bank of Tanzania, has said.
In its March Economic Review which was published last week the BoT says the wholesale prices for maize in various regions increased in February this year when compared with the previous month.
The BoT report shows that the average wholesale price for a 100-kilo bag was up by 3.7 per cent to Sh50,811.6 in February, 2019 from Sh49,011.1 recorded in January.
On annual basis the February 2019 price was also 4.7 per cent higher than the Sh48,530.1 per 100 kilo bag reported in February 2018, according to BoT monthly review.
However, the central bank review did not explain the reason for an increase of maize price only saying that food supply remained adequate in most parts of the country following good harvests in the 2017/18 crop-season.
The 2018 maize prices were the lowest in five years in all major cities, with the price of maize flour also going down below Sh1,000 per kilo.
A report by the ministry of Industry and Trade for April 8 showed that the minimum wholesale price for 100 kilo bag of maize in Dar es Salaam was Sh54,000, higher than Sh46,000 recorded in early-December last year.
The Ministry of Agriculture reports shows maize production was 6.2 million tonnes in financial year 2017/18 from 6.6 million tonnes recorded during the previous financial year.
Tanzania's demand for maize currently stands at 5,462,390 tonnes, with a surplus of 810,760 tonnes.
The minister for Agriculture Japhet Hasunga said the price increase was normal at this period of the year due to drought during the vuli rainy season.
"Some areas did not have the vuli harvests due to drought. And so higher demand than supply has triggered the rise in prices, Mr Hasunga said warning that maize could reach Sh100,000 per 100 kilos.
"In many areas now the prices range between Sh45,000 and Sh55,000 per 100 kilos of maize. The government cannot intervene to bring the prices down, because farmers also need slightly higher prices for their produce," he said.
The March 2019 Tanzania's price bulletin by Famine Early Warning Systems (Fews) Network of the USAID has shown that the wholesale price for maize in Dar es Salaaam, Arusha and Iringa were high in December compared with November last year.
The wholesale price for maize in Dar es Salaam city increased to Sh670 per kilo in December from Sh610 reported in November, which is nearly beyond five-year average price.
In Iringa, one of the major country's food baskets, the price of maize has increased to Sh350 in December from Sh300 per kilo in November.
Rise in maize flour prices
The increase of wholesale maize has triggered an increase in the price of flour.
In Dar es Salaam, some retailers are selling maize flour at a price of Sh1,200 per kilo from Sh900 recorded late last month, and Sh800 in July last year.
In Mugumu town, Serengeti District, the price of maize flour has increased to Sh1,200 per kilo from Sh900 while the price for maize has increased to Sh13,000 per 20-kilo tin, up from Sh9,000.