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Comparative Advantage in Demand and the Development of Rice Value Chains in West Africa


  • Demont, Matty
  • Fiamohe, Rose
  • Kinkpé, A. Thierry


National rice development strategies in Africa are often supply-focused and implicitly assume that consumers will readily substitute imported for domestic rice. However, due to increasing import dependency, urban consumer preferences for rice have become biased toward Asian export quality standards, against which African rice has difficulties to compete. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this import bias is higher in cities close to the port and remote from the geographical centers of cultural heritage where African rice was domesticated more than 3,000years ago. We purposely select a sample of five West African urban markets which are supplied by both foreign and domestic rice value chains and which are located at varying distances from the nearest ports and centers of cultural heritage, and conduct framed field experiments based on auctions to analyze the drivers of urban demand for domestic rice with upgraded quality characteristics. We find that West African rice has increasing difficulties competing against imported rice on urban markets the more consumers appreciate characteristics of imported Asian rice, the closer to the port, and the further the geographical and genealogical distance from rice cultural heritage. These challenges provide crucial insights into value chain upgrading in policy makers’ struggle to achieve rice self-sufficiency in West Africa. Our findings suggest that the optimal portfolio of investment in value chain upgrading is a function of the targeted end-market and its distance from the port and rice cultural heritage. The closer the end-market is located toward the port, the more investment is needed in lifting demand of domestic rice through quality upgrading, branding, and promotion to enable it to compete against imported rice. Proximity to centers of cultural heritage, on the other hand, endows rice value chains with a “comparative advantage in demand,” requiring less investment in demand-lifting and leaving more room for supply-shifting investments.

Suggested Citation

  • Demont, Matty & Fiamohe, Rose & Kinkpé, A. Thierry, 2017. "Comparative Advantage in Demand and the Development of Rice Value Chains in West Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 578-590.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:96:y:2017:i:c:p:578-590
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2017.04.004

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    Cited by:

    1. Diagne, Mandiaye & Demont, Matty & Ndour, Maïmouna, 2017. "What is the value of rice fragrance? Consumer evidence from Senegal," African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, African Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 12(2), June.
    2. Agossadou, A.J. & Fiamohe, R. & Tossou, H. & Kinkpe, T., 2018. "Agribusiness opportunities for youth in Nigeria: Farmers perceptions and willingness to pay for mechanized harvesting equipment," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277553, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Fiamohe, R. & Kinkpe, T.A. & Agossadou, A.J. & Ndindeng, S.A. & Tossou,H.S., 2018. "Parboiling as a diversification strategy to improve rice market value in Senegal," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 276007, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    4. Abdulai Adams & Emmanuel Tetteh Jumpah & Kehinde Damilola Ilesanmi & Hajei Douri Bennin, 2019. "Analysis of parboiled rice processing in northern region of Ghana: determinants, constraints and opportunities," Asian Journal of Agriculture and rural Development, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 9(2), pages 284-297, December.
    5. Fiamohe, R. & Agossadou, A.J. & Kinkpe, T., 2018. "Contribution of improved processing equipment to rice value chain upgrading in West Africa: Evidence from Benin," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 275966, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    6. My, Nguyen H.D. & Demont, Matty & Van Loo, Ellen J. & de Guia, Annalyn & Rutsaert, Pieter & Tuan, Tran Huu & Verbeke, Wim, 2018. "What is the value of sustainably-produced rice? Consumer evidence from experimental auctions in Vietnam," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 283-296.
    7. Rose Fiamohe & Matty Demont & Kazuki Saito & Harold Roy‐Macauley & Eric Tollens, 2018. "How Can West African Rice Compete in Urban Markets? A Demand Perspective for Policymakers," EuroChoices, The Agricultural Economics Society, vol. 17(2), pages 51-57, August.


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