Stocks Measurement

The availability of sound public data on national stocks is vital for enhancing market transparency and food security. One of the main factors behind recent price volatility in international food markets has been the lack of reliable and up-to-date information on food supplies (cereal crops in particular) and hence, on export availabilities and import requirements. In this framework, stocks data are seen as the most problematic.

Considering the quality limitations of available stocks data, the improvement of methodologies for cereal stocks measurement has been identified as a main focus of the AMIS project “Strengthening Agricultural Market Information Systems globally and in selected countries using innovative methods and digital technology” funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Aside from publicly-owned stocks, for which estimates should be readily available, stocks levels can essentially be measured/estimated in two distinct ways: either through surveys or by using stocks as the residual variable in the supply/demand balance. Despite being the most frequently used and economical solution, the latter method (also known as the residual approach) can be problematic for several reasons. By contrast, regular and representative stocks surveys can yield higher quality information, if well designed and targeted at main stockholders. In this framework, activities aim to:

  • Review and document existing practices with stocks surveys, identifying countries with recognized expertise in this field and at different stages of statistical capacity development. The focus of the review will be particularly on those initiatives surveying stocks of AMIS core commodities.
  • Propose definitions and classifications for relevant concepts in stocks measurement.
  • Explore the use of administrative data sources and business survey for the compilation of stocks information.
  • Develop guidelines to be used by countries and international organizations in designing and implementing stocks surveys.
  • Reconcile the residual approach with methods allowing the direct measurements of stocks.

Related Resources

Jul 2017
Having reliable forecasts of food production remains a major challenge in many countries. This literature review, prepared as part of an AMIS capacity building project financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, provides an overview of recent practices and advances in the area of crop yield forecasting at farm and parcel level. It complements an earlier study entitled "Crop Yield Forecasting: Methodological and Institutional Aspects", released in February 2016, which covered crop yield forecasting at regional and national levels.

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