Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural Economics

Committee Chair

Jacob Ricker-Gilbert

Committee Member 1

Abdoulaye Tahirou

Committee Member 2

Gerald E. Shively

Committee Member 3

Phillip C. Abbott


This dissertation comprises three essays. I use data from 360 rural households in Benin to analyze households’ maize storage behavior and adverse selection for maize qualities sold in cereal markets. Then, I rely on data on maize prices and buffer stock releases to investigate the effect of the government’s intervention on maize prices.

Although I address the issues aforementioned in three independent studies, they are related in an agricultural season. Essay one discusses how storage losses and liquidity constraints affect households’ decisions to store maize after harvest. I find that rural households that store maize for food consumption only are unable to store a larger share of their harvest mainly because of liquidity constraints. A 1% increase in savings increases the quantity stored by 0.01% in consumption-oriented households. Conversely, the lack of appropriate storage technologies to prevent pest damage deter households who plan to sell maize later in the season from storing maize. A 1% point increase in expected storage losses results in about 2.6 % decrease in the quantity of maize stored in these market-oriented households. The lack of appropriate storage technologies also affects maize quality that households sell later during the post-harvest season. Therefore, essay two explores how adverse selection could occur in maize markets when there is limited access to improved storage technologies and no quality control in food markets. I find that rural households are about 34 percentage points on average more likely to apply storage chemical to maize intended for sale than home-consumed grain, especially when they believe that insecticides are unsafe. In addition, households increase maize sales consistently in step with their expenditures on chemical insecticides and their perceptions of risks to food safety. These results help explain the low rate of market participation among rural households which in turn affect maize supply in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Essay 3 investigates how the government’s buffer stock releases during the lean period affect maize prices in rural markets. Evidence suggests that stock releases reduce maize prices in high consumption districts where buffer stock releases are substantial, whereas it has no statistically significant effect on maize prices in other districts. Nevertheless, in some cases, buffer stock releases are correlated with price increases in areas where stock releases are small and retail maize prices are low.

I rely on the findings from these essays to recommend policy actions that could contribute to enhancing food and income security in sub-Saharan Africa. Essay three suggests that a countrywide policy of buffer stock releases is ineffective at reducing maize prices. If buffer stocks are to be maintained, governments should be targeting consumption districts where prices are generally high. An effective allocation could free scarce resources to promote alternative food policies that could contribute to improve maize supply during the lean period. Essay one highlights, for instance, the need to improve access to liquidity in consumption-oriented households to increase maize storage. In addition, essays one and two show that access to improved storage technologies and information about good storage practices will reduce post-harvest losses, raise the rate of market participation among rural households, and enhance food safety in maize markets.