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Matin Qaim

University of Göttingen

Martin Qaim is a Professor of International Food Economics and Rural Development at Georg-August-University of Goettinge. He holds a MSc in Agricultural Economics from University of Kiel and a PhD in Agricultural Economics from University of Bonn. His research lies in the field of economics of biotechnology and agricultural research systems, food security and sustainable development, nutrition and health economics, and high-value agricultural markets in developing countries rural development policy.
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publication
Supermarket procurement and farmgate prices in India

Supermarkets have gained in importance in the food systems of many developing countries, with profound implications for smallholder farmers. Several studies analyzed effects of selling to supermarkets on smallholder productivity and income. However, no previous work systematically analyzed effects of supermarkets on farmgate prices, even though prices are important determinants of farmers’ profits and livelihoods. Here, we use data from smallholder vegetable growers in India to compare output prices received in supermarket and traditional market channels. We also quantify farmers’ transport and transaction costs in both channels. Even after controlling for quality differences, prices are significantly higher in supermarket channels. Positive price effects are confirmed through hedonic price models and propensity score matching. Average effects of supermarkets on farmgate prices are in a magnitude of 20% or more. Higher farmgate prices are due to fewer intermediaries and lower transaction costs in supermarket channels. In the absence of binding contracts, supermarkets also need to pay higher prices to ensure regular supply of high-quality vegetables. These results suggest that the rise of supermarkets can contribute to increased market efficiency with positive effects on farmgate prices and revenues.

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publication
Effects of Modern Food Retailers on Adult and Child Diets and Nutrition

In many developing countries, food environments are changing rapidly, with modern retailers—such as supermarkets—gaining in importance. Previous studies have suggested that the rise of modern retailers contributes to overweight and obesity. Effects of modern retailers on dietary quality have not been analyzed previously due to the unavailability of individual-level dietary data. Here, we address this research gap with data from randomly selected households in Lusaka, Zambia. Anthropometric and food-intake data from 930 adults and 499 children were analyzed to estimate effects of purchasing food in modern retailers on body weight, height, and dietary quality while controlling for income and other confounding factors. The food expenditure share spent in modern retailers was found to be positively associated with overweight in adults, but not in children. For children, a positive association between expenditures in modern retailers and height was identified. Modern retailers contribute to higher consumption of ultra-processed foods and calories. But they also increase protein and micronutrient intakes among adults and children, mainly through higher consumption of meat and dairy. The findings underline that modern retailers can influence diets and nutrition in positive and negative ways. Differentiated regulatory policies are needed to shape food environments for healthy food choices and nutrition.

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publication
Links between Maternal Employment and Child Nutrition in Rural Tanzania

Improving child nutrition and empowering women are two important and closely connected development goals. Fostering female employment is often seen as an avenue to serve both these goals, especially if it helps to empower the mothers of undernourished children. However, maternal employment can influence child nutrition through different mechanisms, and the net effect may not necessarily be positive. We develop a theoretical model to show that maternal employment can affect child nutrition through changes in income, intrahousehold bargaining power, and time available for childcare. The links are analyzed empirically using panel data from farm households in rural Tanzania. We find that the links between maternal employment and child height‐for‐age Z‐scores (HAZ) are non‐linear. Off‐farm employment is negatively associated with child HAZ at low levels of labor supply. The association turns positive at higher levels of labor supply and negative again at very high levels. The associations between maternal on‐farm work and child nutrition are weaker and not statistically significant. These findings can help to better design development interventions that foster synergies and avoid potential tradeoffs between female empowerment and child nutrition goals.

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