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Using time series structural characteristics to analyze grain prices in food insecure countries

October 1, 2015

Two components of food security monitoring are accurate forecasts of local grain prices and the ability to identify unusual price behavior. We evaluated a method that can both facilitate forecasts of cross-country grain price data and identify dissimilarities in price behavior across multiple markets. This method, characteristic based clustering (CBC), identifies similarities in multiple time series based on structural characteristics in the data. Here, we conducted a simulation experiment to determine if CBC can be used to improve the accuracy of maize price forecasts. We then compared forecast accuracies among clustered and non-clustered price series over a rolling time horizon. We found that the accuracy of forecasts on clusters of time series were equal to or worse than forecasts based on individual time series. However, in the following experiment we found that CBC was still useful for price analysis. We used the clusters to explore the similarity of price behavior among Kenyan maize markets. We found that price behavior in the isolated markets of Mandera and Marsabit has become increasingly dissimilar from markets in other Kenyan cities, and that these dissimilarities could not be explained solely by geographic distance. The structural isolation of Mandera and Marsabit that we find in this paper is supported by field studies on food security and market integration in Kenya. Our results suggest that a market with a unique price series (as measured by structural characteristics that differ from neighboring markets) may lack market integration and food security.

Publication Year 2015
Title Using time series structural characteristics to analyze grain prices in food insecure countries
DOI 10.1007/s12571-015-0490-5
Authors Frank Davenport, Chris Funk
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Food Security
Index ID 70192770
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center