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Food Price Volatility over the Last Decade in Niger and Malawi: Extent, Sources and Impact on Child Malnutrition

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  • Giovanni Andrea Cornia

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Florence)

  • Laura Deotti

    ()
    (COOPI Pader – North Uganda)

  • Maria Sassi

    ()
    (Department of Economics and Management Studies, University of Pavia)

Abstract

Recently, considerable attention has rightly been paid to the nutritional impact of the sharp hikes in international food prices which took place in 2007-8 and, again, in 2010-11. While sacrosanct, this growing focus has somewhat obscured the effect of other factors which do affect malnutrition in the Sub-Saharan Africa context, i.e. the long term impact of agricultural policies, huge and persistent seasonal variation in domestic food prices, and the impact of famines which still regularly stalk the continent. This paper focuses on the relative weight of these factors in explaining child malnutrition (proxied by the number of child admissions to feeding centers) in Malawi and Niger, two prototypical countries in the region. The analysis shows that the drivers of domestic food staple prices and of the ensuing child malnutrition have to be found not only – or not primarily – in the changes of international food prices but mainly in the impact of agricultural policies on food production, the persistence of a strong food price seasonality, and recurrent and often poorly attended famines. Indeed, even during years of declines in international food prices, these factors often exert a huge upward pressures on domestic food prices and child malnutrition.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by United Nations Development Programme, Regional Bureau for Africa (UNDP/RBA) in its series Working Papers with number 2012-002.

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Length: 67 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rac:wpaper:2012-002

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Keywords: Food prices; Famines; Seasonality; Food Policy; Child malnutrition; Niger; Malawi;

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  1. Smith, Lawrence D., 1995. "Malawi: reforming the state's role in agricultural marketing," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 561-571, December.
  2. Jayne, Thomas S. & Chapoto, Antony & Minde, Isaac J. & Donovan, Cynthia, 2008. "The 2008/09 Food Price and Food Security Situation in Eastern and Southern Africa: Implications for Immediate and Longer Run Responses," Food Security International Development Working Papers 54556, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  3. You, Liangzhi & Johnson, Michael, 2008. "Exploring strategic priorities for regional agricultural R&D investments in East and Central Africa:," IFPRI discussion papers 776, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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  5. von Braun, Joachim & Ahmed, Akhter & Asenso-Okyere, Kwadwo & Fan, Shenggen & Gulati, Ashok & Hoddinott, John & Pandya-Lorch, Rajul & Rosegrant, Mark W. & Ruel, Marie & Torero, Maximo & van Rheenen, Te, 2008. "High food prices: The what, who, and how of proposed policy actions," Policy briefs 1A, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  6. Harrigan, Jane, 2008. "Food insecurity, poverty and the Malawian Starter Pack: Fresh start or false start?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 237-249, June.
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  8. Rashid, Shahidur, 2002. "Dynamics of agricultural wage and rice price in Bangladesh," MTID discussion papers 44, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  9. Diallo, Boubacar Cisse & Dembele, Niama Nango & Staatz, John M. & Cisse, Moussa & Adjao, Ramziath, 2009. "Transmission des hausses des prix internationaux des produits alimentaires en Afrique de l’Ouest : Leçons de la crise de 2007-2008 pour l’expansion de la production," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 57244, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  10. Todd Benson & Samuel Mugarura & Kelly Wanda, 2008. "Impacts in Uganda of rising global food prices: the role of diversified staples and limited price transmission," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 39(s1), pages 513-524, November.
  11. Minot, Nicholas, 2010. "Staple food prices in Malawi," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 58558, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  12. Abdoulaye, T. & Lowenberg-DeBoer, J., 2000. "Intensification of Sahelian farming systems: evidence from Niger," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 67-81, May.
  13. Tschirley, David L. & Nijhoff, Jan J. & Arlindo, Pedro & Mwiinga, Billy & Weber, Michael T. & Jayne, Thomas S., 2006. "Anticipating and Responding to Drought Emergencies in Southern Africa: Lessons from the 2002-2003 Experience," Food Security International Development Working Papers 54564, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  14. Dorward, Andrew & Chirwa, Ephraim & Kelly, Valerie A. & Jayne, Thomas S. & Slater, Rachel & Boughton, Duncan, 2008. "Evaluation Of The 2006/7 Agricultural Input Subsidy Programme, Malawi. Final Report," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 97143, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  15. Minot, Nicholas, 2011. "Transmission of world food price changes to markets in Sub-Saharan Africa:," IFPRI discussion papers 1059, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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