Consumer demand for value-added products of African indigenous vegetables in coastal Kenya: the case of sun-dried and frozen Cowpea leaves
Okello, Julius J.
Hutchinson, Margaret J.
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Some recent efforts to improve the food and nutrition security of rural households have focused on the promotion of African indigenous vegetables (AIVs). This has been due to the challenges smallholder farmers face in participating in high-value global food systems. AIVs contain vitamins and micronutrients not found in most exotic vegetables, and therefore their consumption could contribute to resolving malnutrition among poor rural households. Higher consumption could also lead to improved rural incomes through sales into urban niche markets, resulting in enhanced community development. Despite the role AIVs can play in promoting food security and community development, the AIV supply is highly seasonal, characterized by large gluts and acute shortages. Much study of AIVs has focused on production rather than consumption. In this study we use descriptive analysis to describe AIV consumers and assess demand for basic value-addition practices by AIV retailers. We then use regression analysis to examine the factors conditioning consumers' willingness to pay (WTP) for more advanced value-addition processes that can smooth out the supply of AIVs. It focuses on cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), one of the most widely consumed AIVs in western, eastern, and coastal Kenya. We find that several socio-economic factors and varietal attributes condition the WTP for value addition. Specifically, WTP is affected by age, gender, education, awareness of the selected value-addition techniques, and the self-reported likelihood of purchasing value-added vegetables. Additionally, color, tenderness of leaves, and the washing off of soil affect WTP for value addition. The paper discusses the implications of these findings for traditional fresh produce food systems, community development, and policy.
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