Climate, conflicts, and variations in prices on pre‐colonial West African markets for staple crops

Klas Rönnbäck
Published Online:
24 Jun 2014
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 67 Issue 4

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Very little is known about the dynamics of pre‐colonial markets in Africa. This article presents a new set of data series on the pre‐colonial price of staple crops on the Gold Coast. Six hypotheses for the behaviour of market prices, found in the previous literature, are tested in this article. The results show conclusively that market prices did respond to shifts in demand and supply, for example, from climate‐induced scarcity, or to external shocks such as war. It is argued that the markets studied seem to have functioned remarkably well, given the socio‐economic and political context in which they were operating.

© Economic History Society 2014

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