A new article by Karna Basu and Maisy Wong in the latest issue of the Journal of Development Economics offers some interesting results on the effect of storage technology on food consumption:
Predictable annual lean seasons occur in many rural areas, including West Timor in Indonesia. Imperfections in savings and credit markets make it difficult for staple farmers to convert harvest season output into lean season consumption. We conduct a randomized evaluation of a seasonal food storage program and a food credit program. By providing improved ways to transfer assets across seasons, each program functions as a subsidy on lean season consumption. We find that neither program had effects on staple food consumption. The storage program increased non-food consumption. The credit program increased reported income and reduced seasonal gaps in consumption. Our results are consistent with positive income effects through the expansion of budget sets, but suggest that the average household could be close to staple food satiation.
The effects of storage–or lack thereof–can be pretty important to welfare outcomes, and the most important work on the topic has been done by Brian Wright and Jeff Williams. See here for their 2005 magnum opus on the topic; see here and here for their seminal articles which led to the 2005 book–the former deals with the role of storage, the latter with its potential welfare effects.