Consumer Preferences For Quality Characteristics Along The Cowpea Value Chain In Nigeria, Ghana And Mali
The production and trade of cowpea (Vigna Uniculata), called “blackeyed peas” in the US, are a growing business for farmers and merchants serving the rapidly expanding urban areas of West and Central Africa. Cowpea fits the needs of the urban poor. It is an inexpensive source of protein that does not require refrigeration. A better understanding of consumer preferences for cowpea is essential to market development. The main objective of the study was to determine the cowpea grain quality characteristics that command a price premium or provoke a discount in Ghanaian, Malian and Nigerian markets. Specifically, the study looked at the impact of the grain size, texture, color, eye color, and bruchid-damaged grains on cowpea market prices. The data for the study were collected from six markets in Ghana; four markets were in the capital city of Accra and two markets in Kumasi. In Mali, two markets were surveyed, Marché de Sabalibougou and Marché Medine. In Nigeria three markets were surveyed, Iddo in Lagos; Monday, in Maiduguri; and Dawanau in Kano. Hedonic pricing methods provide a statistical estimate of premiums and discounts. The results of the study indicated that cowpea consumers in Ghana, Mali and Nigeria are willing to pay a premium for large cowpea grains. Cowpea consumers discount grains with storage damage from the very first bruchid hole. The impact of price on other cowpea quality characteristics such as skin color and texture, and eye color varies locally. Implications for development of the cowpea value chain include: 1) breeders and cowpea production researchers should identify cost-effective ways to increase cowpea grain size because larger grain size is almost universally preferred, and 2) entomologists and storage experts should develop and transfer improved storage technologies to reduce damage discounts, and 3) serving local markets requires a portfolio of grain skin color, eye color and skin texture combinations.
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