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Food price volatility in sub-Saharan Africa: Has it really increased?

  • Minot, Nicholas

The food price crisis of 2007–2008 and recent resurgence of food prices have focused increasing attention on the causes and consequences of food price volatility in international food markets and the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. In this paper, we examine the patterns and trends in food price volatility using an unusually rich database of African staple food prices. We find that international grain prices have become more volatile in recent years (2007–2010) but no evidence that food price volatility has increased in the region. This contrasts with the widespread view that food prices have become more volatile in the region since the global food crisis of 2007–2008. In addition, the results suggest that price volatility is lower for processed and tradable food than for nontradable food, that volatility is lower in the major cities than in secondary cities, and that maize price volatility is actually higher in countries with the most active intervention to stabilize maize prices. These findings suggest that greater attention should be given to the (high) level of food prices in the region rather than volatility per se, that regional and international trade can play a useful role in reducing food price volatility, and that traditional food price stabilization efforts may be counterproductive.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/134146
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Paper provided by International Association of Agricultural Economists in its series 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil with number 134146.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae12:134146
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.iaae-agecon.org/
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  1. Byerlee, Derek & Jayne, T.S. & Myers, Robert J., 2006. "Managing food price risks and instability in a liberalizing market environment: Overview and policy options," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 275-287, August.
  2. Prudencio, Y. Coffi & Al-Hassan, Ramatu, 1994. "The food security stabilization roles of cassava in Africa," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 57-64, February.
  3. Robles, Miguel & Torero, Maximo & von Braun, Joachim, 2009. "When speculation matters:," Issue briefs 57, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  4. Benson, Todd & Minot, Nicholas & Pender, John & Robles, Miguel & von Braun, Joachim, 2008. "Global food crises: Monitoring and assessing impact to inform policy responses," Food policy reports 19, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  5. Chapoto, Antony & Jayne, Thomas S., 2009. "The Impacts of Trade Barriers and Market Interventions on Maize Price Predictability: Evidence from Eastern and Southern Africa," Food Security International Development Working Papers 56798, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  6. Dorosh, Paul A. & Dradri, Simon & Haggblade, Steven, 2009. "Regional trade, government policy and food security: Recent evidence from Zambia," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 350-366, August.
  7. Bollerslev, Tim, 1986. "Generalized autoregressive conditional heteroskedasticity," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 307-327, April.
  8. Engle, Robert F, 1982. "Autoregressive Conditional Heteroscedasticity with Estimates of the Variance of United Kingdom Inflation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 987-1007, July.
  9. 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).
  10. von Braun, Joachim & Torero, Maximo, 2009. "Implementing physical and virtual food reserves to protect the poor and prevent market failure:," Policy briefs 10, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  11. Christopher Gilbert & Wyn Morgan, 2010. "Has food price volatility risen?," Department of Economics Working Papers 1002, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
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