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The Maize Price Spike of 2012/13: Understanding the Paradox of High Prices despite Abundant Supplies

  • Sitko, Nicholas J.
  • Kuteya, Auckland N.

The 2012 harvest was, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock national food balance sheet estimates, a major surplus production season. However, by November the same year, Zambia started experiencing widespread maize meal shortages and skyrocketing maize meal prices. Responding to these shortages and price spikes, the government increased the price subsidies it provided on maize sold by the parastatal Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to large-scale maize mills and imposed de facto price controls on maize meal by threatening to revoke the business licenses of commercial maize mills if retail prices of a 25kg bag of maize meal exceeded kwacha rebased (KR) 50. Despite these efforts maize meal prices continued to rise, reaching as high as KR100 in some markets by February 2013.

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Paper provided by Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics in its series Food Security Collaborative Working Papers with number 171871.

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Date of creation: Oct 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ags:midcwp:171871
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  1. 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.
  2. Shenggen Fan & Peter Hazell & Sukhadeo Thorat, 2000. "Government Spending, Growth and Poverty in Rural India," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(4), pages 1038-1051.
  3. Mason, Nicole M. & Myers, Robert J., 2011. "The Effects of the Food Reserve Agency on Maize Market Prices in Zambia," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 120771, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  4. Myers, Robert J., 2006. "On the costs of food price fluctuations in low-income countries," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 288-301, August.
  5. Mason, Nicole M. & Jayne, Thomas S., 2009. "Staple Food Consumption Patterns in Urban Zambia: Results from the 2007/2008 Urban Consumption Survey," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 56803, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  6. Mason, Nicole M. & Jayne, T.S. & Chapoto, Antony & Donovan, Cynthia, 2011. "Putting the 2007/2008 global food crisis in longer-term perspective: Trends in staple food affordability in urban Zambia and Kenya," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 350-367, June.
  7. 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.
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