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Elsevier
Africa | Sub-Saharan Africa | Burkina Faso | Ethiopia | Ghana | Malawi | Niger | Tanzania | Uganda
2018-01-12T21:13:07Z | 2018-01-12T21:13:07Z | 2017-02

Everyone knows about seasonality. But what exactly do we know? This study systematically measures seasonal price gaps at 193 markets for 13 food commodities in seven African countries. It shows that the commonly used dummy variable or moving average deviation methods to estimate the seasonal gap can yield substantial upward bias. This can be partially circumvented using trigonometric and sawtooth models, which are more parsimonious. Among staple crops, seasonality is highest for maize (33 percent on average) and lowest for rice (16½ percent). This is two and a half to three times larger than in the international reference markets. Seasonality varies substantially across market places but maize is the only crop in which there are important systematic country effects. Malawi, where maize is the main staple, emerges as exhibiting the most acute seasonal differences. Reaching the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger requires renewed policy attention to seasonality in food prices and consumption.

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