Consumer acceptance and willingness to pay for shelf life extended fresh cassava roots in Uganda: the case of Kampala District
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High post-harvest losses along the fresh cassava roots value chain increase food insecurity as a result of reduction in the amount and quality of food available for consumption. New modern technologies such as; waxing have proved efficient in extending the shelf life of fresh cassava roots up to one month and two weeks under high relative humidity (HRH) storage. The objectives of the study were to determine consumer acceptance; estimate price consumers are willing to pay and determine factors that influence consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP). Consumer acceptance was determined through sensory evaluation using a 9 point hedonic scale, consumer WTP and factors influencing WTP were determined using seemingly unrelated bivariate probit model. The study utilized a sample of 400 consumers; 250 from eight open markets and 150 from five supermarkets. Sensory evaluation results show that taste for waxed and HRH storage fresh cassava roots were positive and significant in both consumer segments. The results of the study reveal high WTP and market potential for fresh cassava with extended shelf life. Supermarket consumers were willing to pay a premium of 83.1% for waxed and 50.0% for HRH storage fresh cassava roots whereas open market consumers were willing to pay premiums of 21.1% and 7.9% for the respective fresh cassava roots categories. The main factors that influenced WTP include bid price, age, years of schooling and distance to the market. The market potential from the double bounded dichotomous choice elicitation method among supermarket consumers was between UGX 164.8 and UGX 175.2 billion/year for waxed cassava and UGX 100.2 and UGX 100.8 billion/year for HRH storage fresh cassava. On the other hand, the market potential estimate based on open market consumers surveyed ranged between UGX 112.4 and UGX 86.4 billion/year for waxed cassava, and between UGX 65.7 and UGX 78.4 billion/year for HRH storage cassava. The high market potential and consumer interest in shelf life extended cassava underscore the need for strategies to promote adoption of technologies at scale. The government should provide low cost loans and post-harvest technology subsidies to reduce production costs; this will help consumers to obtain these products at affordable prices. Furthermore, there is need for the government and partners to sensitize and educate the masses on the shelf life extension technologies. This can be achieved through the current government programs such as operation wealth creation. Since education level of the consumers yielded positive effect on consumer WTP, the current government education programs such as universal primary education and universal secondary education should be strengthened by enriching the curriculum with modules on better post-harvest handling techniques for staple crops such as fresh cassava roots.