Improved methodology for estimation of food stocks — Philip Abbott (AMIS)

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One recommendation that came following the food crisis of 2007-08 was that agricultural market information systems needed improvement. Stocks positions were prominent in these recommendations as they inform international and domestic prices, and because they are an indicator of food availability, hence one measure of food security. Existing methods to estimate stocks exhibit numerous problems, creating considerable uncertainty in available data.
Literature on how to estimate stocks is quite limited, and documentation of stocks estimation methodologies is brief and incomplete. Stocks estimates are often derived as a residual from food balance or supply utilization accounts, not survey data. Conflicting candidate residual variables and weak empirical foundations mean this method is likely to lead to poor estimates.
This report is an initial effort aimed at improving stocks estimation methodology in developing countries. This report objectives are therefore to examine current and best practices in estimating stocks positions and to develop from that review an annotated outline for a set of Guidelines for recommended stocks estimation methodology.