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Measuring rural consumers’ willingness to pay for quality labels using experimental auctions: the case of aflatoxin-free maize in Kenya

Hugo De Groote, Clare Narrod (), Simon C. Kimenju, Charles Bett, Rosemarie P. B. Scott, Marites Tiongco and Zachary M. Gitonga

Agricultural Economics, 2016, vol. 47, issue 1, 33-45

Abstract: Aflatoxins are a common health hazard in tropical countries, especially in rural areas. New methods to reduce aflatoxin levels in food staples, as well as cheaper test methods, are being developed, but consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for these improvements is unknown. A survey was conducted with a representative sample of rural consumers (1,344 in total, 63% women) in all major maize-production zones of Kenya. The survey included an experimental auction with maize products of different qualities. The results showed that many rural consumers were aware of aflatoxins, but few understood their health risks. Respondents were willing to pay a premium for maize tested for aflatoxins and labeled, but asked a high discount for maize that was visibly contaminated with moldy grain. The premium was higher for respondents with education and in regions with aflatoxicosis outbreaks. Knowledge of aflatoxins substantially reduced the overall WTP, but did not increase the WTP for tested maize. Welfare analysis indicates that mandatory testing would result in substantial benefits if the cost of testing can be lowered to below the premium.

Date: 2016
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