DIY: Bernard’s Commodity Index

otabilHi, my name is Bernard Otabil, and I led the launch of the first ever agricultural commodity index in Ghana. It’s known as the Esoko Ghana Commodity Index (EGCI), and it’s a market price index composed of data on physical commodities. The index tracks prices at two levels: the Esoko Ghana Commodity Index-Retail (EGCI-R) and the Esoko Ghana Commodity Index-Wholesale (EGCI-W). I wanted to share a bit about how to create a commodity index that informs the general public, as well as policy makers, about market trends in your country.

1) First, determine which markets and commodities should be used in the construction of the index. Consider the geographic importance of the markets, the size and the commodities traded in them. Also consider the importance of the commodities to be used, bearing in mind that staple foods or commodities that form a large component of the country’s consumer price index are the most interesting.

2) So now, you need market prices–how are you going to gather prices from these markets? Setup an enumeration process and procedures that ensure price collection on a regular basis, and on time. At Esoko we have trained enumerators who cover 34 markets in the country, collecting prices regularly and feeding them on to our platform using their mobile phones. You may setup a private system like ours, or you may leverage other networks that already collect data. Just make sure it is good, and consistent.

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The Nitty Gritty on Enumeration

andrewI’m Andrew Kpeleku, the Enumeration Manager at Esoko Ghana. That’s me on the right, with our Techiman Enumerator, Sampson Aiyedum. Our department is responsible for the collection, upload and validation of data (prices, offers and profiles) from 31 markets across Ghana. 

I spend many days in our office in Accra approving data and managing our enumerators, but I also get to go on market visits to see our enumerators throughout the year, and I’ve learned a lot over the years. Here are my top 6 enumeration tips for anyone wanting to collect data from the field:

1) Do basic research on marketsboat

Before markets are set up, it’s prudent to find out the real distance to each market as well as the means to get there. Though the most common means to market areas is by road, water bodies might come one’s way (see my photo of the ferry I have to take to reach one of our markets here). Basic research helps managers plan and budget appropriately.

2) Hire the right people 

The importance of accurate data collection must always guide managers in hiring. Experience has shown us here that part-time teachers are very well suited for enumeration jobs in the markets, as they tend to be more responsible and can also easily gain trust from market traders.

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