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Why does on†farm storage fail to mitigate price volatility?

Elodie Maître d'Hôtel and Tristan Le Cotty

Agricultural Economics, 2018, vol. 49, issue 1, 71-82

Abstract: We analyze the role of farm stock management on price volatility under liquidity constraints and heterogeneous price expectations. In commodity markets, speculative behaviors by stockholders tend to reduce price volatility, but this is not the case in certain agricultural markets, where speculation by farmers regarding decisions to sell or store grain is subject to liquidity constraints and heterogeneous price expectations. Like stockholders, most farmers sell grain if they expect a price drop in the near future, but unlike stockholders, they are not necessarily able to purchase grain if they expect a price increase in the next period. Heterogeneous price expectations can also lead to suboptimal storage decisions, further increasing price volatility. For these reasons, the storage management behavior of farmers often fails to mitigate price drops in the way that speculation by stockholders does. We merge historical data on maize prices and household storage collected in Burkina Faso in order to build a dynamic panel over the 2005–2012 period. We show that carryover from one season to the next is associated with unexpected price drops during the preceding lean season and that carryover is associated with more frequent unexpected price drops following the subsequent post†harvest season.

Date: 2018
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