Inter-temporal and spatial price dispersion patterns and the well-being of maize producers in Southern Tanzania

Bjorn Van Campenhout, Els Lecoutere, Ben D'Exelle

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We revisit a methodology to gauge the short-term effect of price changes on smallholder farmer's welfare that is popular amongst policy makers and academia. Realising that farmers face substantial seasonal price volatility over the course of an agricultural year, we pay particular attention to the timing of sales and purchases. In addition we depart from the implicit assumption that all farmers scattered across rural areas face the same prices when interacting with markets. Using maize marketing during the 2007–2008 agricultural season in a sample of smallholders in Tanzania as an illustration, we find that especially poor farmers face greater losses than what a standard analysis would suggest. We also relate our methodology to factors that are likely to affect potential benefits or costs from inter-temporal and spatial price dispersion, such as means of transport, access to price information and credit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-253
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of African Economies
Issue number2
Early online date7 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • spatial price dispersion
  • inter-temporal price variation
  • price changes
  • market participation
  • maize
  • Tanzania

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