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Detailed weekly sales transactions data for the period January 2000-June 2001 from three frontier markets in the central corridor of West Africa were analyzed to identify the factors influencing short-run, intra-year cattle prices. The empirical results indicate that in addition to market location and seasonality of supply and sales, market participants show systemic preferences for specific cattle attributes (sex, weight, condition and finish) and are willing to pay premium prices consistent with their preferences. Communicating this information to producers can assist them to tailor their production and marketing decisions to meet market expectations and thereby improve their competitiveness, profitability and intra-regional livestock trade. Innovative policy and institutional approaches to improve market information dissemination and ease other constraints that tend to dampen supply response, even in the face of favorable prices, are discussed in the paper.


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