Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
Chapter objectives
This chapter seeks to demonstrate the connection between climate variability and the price of
local staple foods through an examination of the reasons for seasonal price movements. The
influence of the global commodity markets is discussed, along with other factors that affect
local staple food prices, such as changes in marketing or in cereal supplies. As an isolated,
poorly developed region, West Africa serves as an example of a region where prices and pro-
duction are closely coupled. Multi-level, cross-sectional analysis is presented to explain why
prices vary across locations. This chapter includes an assessment of how local agricultural
productivity as measured by remote sensing is used to improve our understanding of market
price dynamics along with economic, political and other shocks on food access. The chapter
end with an assessment of social and nutrition impacts of seasonality on children and other
vulnerable populations.
Seasonality of food security
Seasonality, or the regular change in the behavior of a system during certain months of a
year, is a common characteristic across many climates. Seasonality in the weather, with
harvests occurring in similar months across large expanses of a continent, is part of agricul-
tural societies around the world (Devereux et al ., 2011). The impact of seasonality in
resources, food prices and in food availability has long been recognized and has been exten-
sively described in the literature (Alderman et al ., 1997; Chen, 1991; Crews and Silva,
1998; Haddad et al ., 1997; Handa and Mlay, 2006; Hillbruner and Egan, 2008). As Devereux
(2012, p. 111) states “not only does seasonality generate short-term hunger and seasonal
food crises, it is also responsible for various 'poverty ratchets' that can have irreversible
long-term consequences for household well-being and for productive capacity in rural
areas.” Coping strategies that have been developed in response to regular reductions in
availability and affordability of food involve transfers of assets from poorer households to
richer ones at less than full value (Devereux, 2012).
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