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Price Discovery and Price Risk Management Before and After Deregulation of the South African Maize Industry

25 September 2012
Publication Type: Working Paper
JEL Code: C33, Q11, Q13, Q18

The withdrawal of the Maize Board in 1996 meant that farmers could no longer rely on its pre-planting price or “voorskot” for price discovery and price risk management. Some have claimed (UNCTAD, 2007) that the South African Futures Exchange (SAFEX) can provide these functions. We test this claim and analyse the implications of it. To do so, we build on an acreage response model developed earlier by Chavas and Holt (1990) by allowing for a futures market as well as accounting for farmer heterogeneity and the relative impact of price risk and yield risk. We first establish farmers’ responsiveness to risk by determining their risk aversion and, more specifically, whether they exhibit decreasing aggregate risk aversion (DARA). We find that farmers are risk averse and display positive wealth effects, which may be due to DARA. We can say little about how farmers have reacted to the price discovery function of expected prices both before and after the withdrawal of the Maize Board. However, we can conclude that farmers have responded less to price risk post-1996, even though prices were more volatile during this period. This supports UNCTAD’s (2007) claim. Combined with the finding of positive wealth effects the policy implication is that an improvement in the financial position of farmers as well as their access to futures markets can help reduce the impact and disutility of risk and, hence, improve their welfare without the need for regulation.

Series title: Working Paper 263
1 December 2011
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