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The Impacts of Trade Barriers and Market Interventions on Maize Price Predictability: Evidence from Eastern and Southern Africa


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  • Chapoto, Antony
  • Jayne, Thomas S.


There is continuing debate in east and southern Africa about the effects of food market reform on the welfare of small-scale farmers and low-income consumers. At the center of this debate is the perception that food prices have become more unstable in countries that have liberalized their staple food markets, thereby exacerbating the plight of poor consumers and farmers. This perception has led many governments in the region to shun an open maize borders policy and pursue a variety of food marketing and trade policy tools to stabilize food prices. Unfortunately, there remains a dearth of empirical evidence on the effects of alternative food marketing and trade policies, including that of liberalization, on price stability and predictability. Assessments of this issue are complicated by the fact that market reform programs are not monolithic in their design or implementation – impacts of reform on price instability may depend on variations in implementation. It would be particularly important to compare the magnitude of food price instability in countries that have embraced relatively comprehensive staple food market reform policies over time versus those in which the state continues to influence and stabilize food prices through the operations of marketing boards and controls on trade. This study examines the amplitude of price instability and unpredictability between countries using trade barriers and marketing board operations to stabilize prices versus countries with relatively open trade policies. Instability is defined as the unconditional variance in food prices over time, whereas unpredictability is defined as the unanticipated component of price instability, i.e., the conditional variance from a price forecast model.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics in its series Food Security International Development Working Papers with number 56798.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ags:midiwp:56798

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Keywords: africa; food security; maize; trade; markets; Food Security and Poverty; International Relations/Trade; Marketing; q13;

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Cited by:
  1. Elodie Maître D'Hôtel & Tristan Le Cotty & Thomas Jayne, 2012. "Is a public regulation of food price volatility feasible in Africa? An arch approach in Kenya," Post-Print hal-00801361, HAL.
  2. Minot, Nicholas, 2012. "Food price volatility in sub-Saharan Africa: Has it really increased?," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 134146, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  3. Jayne, Thomas S. & Mason, Nicole M. & Myers, Robert J. & Ferris, John N. & Mather, David & Beaver, Margaret & Lenski, Natalie & Chapoto, Antony & Boughton, Duncan, 2010. "Patterns and Trends in Food Staples Markets in Eastern and Southern Africa: Toward the Identification of Priority Investments and Strategies for Developing Markets and Promoting Smallholder Productivi," Food Security International Development Working Papers 62148, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  4. Gouel, Christophe, 2013. "Food price volatility and domestic stabilization policies in developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6393, The World Bank.
  5. Sitko, Nicholas J. & Jayne, T.S., 2012. "Why are African commodity exchanges languishing? A case study of the Zambian Agricultural Commodity Exchange," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 275-282.
  6. Jayne, T.S. & Chapoto, Antony & Chamberlin, Jordan, 2011. "Strengthening Staple Food Markets in Eastern And Southern Africa: Toward An Integrated Approach for CAADP Investment Plans," Food Security International Development Policy Syntheses 157939, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  7. Ariga, Joshua & Jayne, Thomas S. & Njukia, Stephen, 2010. "Staple food prices in Kenya," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 58559, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  8. Gage, Daria, 2011. "Revitalizing Zambia’s Agricultural Marketing Information Centre (Amic)," Food Security Collaborative Policy Briefs 113646, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.


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