A system dynamics study of instability in the Colombian coffee market
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The coffee market in Colombia is highly unstable, being more unstable in the last 20 years (since the removal of the ICO agreement). During 1980 and 1990 the coffee price was varying around 8% around a mean and over the last 20 years it has been oscillating around 15% to 20% around a mean. The coffee market presents an 8 to 11 years cycle in price and production. Coffee market is well known for its volatility and for the crisis that producers are confronting, i.e., poverty, low prices, etc. The main causes for this crisis are the characteristic behaviors of the coffee market itself, which presents price instability, resource unsustainabillity, and inequity along the commodity chain (specially for coffee growers), the same characteristics of other commodity markets. In this paper we focused on the first of the causes, price instability, and so we created a System Dynamics model of the Colombian coffee sector that captures the structure of that market, the delays and feedbacks present on it. With this research we intended to answer the following questions: Why is the Colombian coffee market so unstable in price and quantity? And what can be done to reduce the instability of that market? The model is an adaptation of the generic structure, created by Meadows 1970 for commodity markets. We demonstrate that cycles in Colombia coffee sector can be endogenously generated and propose some policies that might contribute to dampen those oscillations.