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Sitko N.J.,Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute | Jayne T.S.,Michigan State University
Food Policy | Year: 2012

Food price volatility and high transactions costs remain major problems in African food markets. These persistent problems provide a strong theoretical justification for the development of commodity exchanges. However, the majority of African commodity exchanges remain underdeveloped. Through a case study of the Zambian Agricultural Commodity Exchange (ZAMACE), this article explores why agricultural commodity exchanges in the region have thus far failed to develop into sustainable trading platforms and identifies the most important changes needed to enhance their performance.Drawing on interviews and group discussions with the primary participants on ZAMACE, five main factors that impede volumes traded on the ZAMACE exchange are identified and analyzed: (1) the limited success in attracting financial institutions' commitment to commodity exchanges; (2) the anonymous nature of trading on a commodity exchange exacerbates the risks associated with contract non-compliance and opportunistic behavior; (3) the potential for conflict of interest among brokers; (4) the potential for market manipulation in a thinly traded market; and (5) the high fixed costs that are imposed on actors trading in a thin market. Exacerbating all these factors is the unpredictability of government intervention in cereal markets. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Mulenga B.P.,Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute | Richardson R.B.,Michigan State University | Tembo G.,University of Zambia | Mapemba L.,University of Malawi
Environment and Development Economics | Year: 2014

Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) support livelihoods in rural communities through provision of food, fuel, materials, medicines and income from sales. We estimated the contribution of NTFPs to rural household income in Zambia, and used a two-stage tobit alternative model to identify the factors associated with participation in NTFP markets. NTFPs accounted for 35 per cent of household income for participating households, second only to trading. Human capital variables and the value of assets were found to be significant determinants of both participation in business activities related to NTFPs and the associated household income, and the poor were more dependent on NTFPs than wealthier households. The effect of average rainfall underscores the role that NTFPs play in providing a safety net during periods of low crop yields. Rural development policies should recognize the role played by NTFPs in rural livelihoods and the need to balance welfare improvement and sustainable forest management. © Cambridge University Press 2013.

Ricker-Gilbert J.,Purdue University | Mason N.M.,Michigan State University | Darko F.A.,Purdue University | Tembo S.T.,Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute
Agricultural Economics (United Kingdom) | Year: 2013

An important hypothesized benefit of large-scale input subsidy programs in Africa is that by raising maize production, the subsidies should put downward pressure on retail maize prices to the benefit of urban consumers and the rural poor who tend to be net food buyers. To inform debates related to this rationale for input subsidies, this study estimates the effects of fertilizer subsidies on retail maize prices in Malawi and Zambia using market or district-level panel data covering the 2000-2001 to 2011-2012 maize marketing years. Results indicate that roughly doubling the size of Malawi's subsidy program reduces maize prices by 1.2-2.5% on average. In Zambia, roughly doubling the scale of the country's subsidy program reduces maize prices by 1.8-2.8% on average. The results are robust across countries and model specifications, and indicate that the fertilizer subsidy programs in Malawi and Zambia have had a minimal effect on retail maize prices. © 2013 International Association of Agricultural Economists.

Whitfield S.,University of Leeds | Dixon J.L.,University of Leeds | Mulenga B.P.,Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute | Ngoma H.,University of Leeds | Ngoma H.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Agricultural Systems | Year: 2015

In the context of broad scale system changes (e.g. climate change) and the prioritisation of impact-at-scale development, there is a particular need for farming systems research (FSR) to improve our understanding of the links between systems at multiple scales. Drawing on three empirical case studies of large-scale agricultural interventions in eastern and southern Africa, we highlight problems that arise from conceiving and justifying interventions on the basis of the simple aggregation of farms into large collective systems. We review changes in the approach and concepts of FSR and point to the value of farming systems concepts that go beyond these aggregations, and find ways to capture the multi-level system dynamics that link on-farm decision making to broader political, social, and environmental changes. Recent attempts at more accurately conceptualising the domain of FSR, and drawing distinctions between 'farms', 'systems', and 'systems of farming', represent a useful contribution to such work. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Jayne T.S.,Michigan State University | Jayne T.S.,Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute | Muyanga M.,Michigan State University | Muyanga M.,Egerton University
Food Security | Year: 2012

This study analyzes the impact of increasing population density in Kenya's rural areas on smallholder behavior and welfare indicators. We first present evidence to explain how land constraints can be emerging within an overall context of apparent land under-utilization. Using data from five panel surveys on 1,146 small-scale farms over the 1997-2010 period, we use econometric techniques to determine how increasing rural population density is affecting farm household behavior and livelihoods. We find that farm productivity and incomes tend to rise with population density up to 600-650 persons per km 2; beyond this threshold, rising population density is associated with sharp declines in farm productivity, total household income, and asset wealth. Currently 14% of Kenya's rural population resides in areas exceeding this population density. The study concludes by exploring the nature of institutional and policy reforms needed to address these development problems. © 2012 The Author(s).

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