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URBAN CONSUMERS'

PERCEPTIONS

AND WILLINGNESS

TO PAY FOR SAFETY


'"I

OF LEAFY VEGETABLES:

THE CASE OF KALE CONSUMERS IN NAIROBI

MARTHER W ANJIRU NGIGI, BSC (UoN)


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A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT


MASTER OF SCIENCE IN AGRICULTURAL
DEPARTMENT

AND APPLIED ECONOMICS

OF AGRICULTURAL

IN UNIVERSITY

ECONOMICS

OF NAIROBI

University of NAIROBI library

1111111111111111111111111111111111111111

04166385

SEPTEMBER

FOR THE DEGREE OF

2010

IN THE

ABSTRACT
Throughout developing countries, food quality and safety are becoming increasingly important
attributes to urban consumers being driven by consumers' lifestyle changes, urbanization and
income growth. Rapid urbanization in many of these countries has led to generation of huge
volumes of polluted water, some of which is being used for leafy vegetable production. The use
of polluted/contaminated water seems beneficial from the point of view of food security and
social benefits. However, from food safety perspective, it poses public health problems. Leafy
vegetables produced using polluted water are prone to contamination with heavy metals and
pathogens that pose health risks to consumers. At the same time, the demand by consumers for
aesthetic quality attributes in leafy vegetables has led to excessive use of fertilizer and pesticides
by farmers. This has led to high residue levels of agrochemicals (i.e., pesticide and fertilizer
residues) in such vegetables. The objective of this study was to examine urban consumers"
perceptions on and willingness to pay for safe leafy vegetables in Nairobi. The study also
examined factors conditioning urban consumers willing to pay for safety of leafy vegetables.

The study focused on kales produced in peri-urban areas for sale in Nairobi. Descriptive analysis
method was applied to assess urban consumers' attitudes towards safety of the kales while
contingent valuation and the payment card method were used to examine urban consumers'
willingness to pay for safe kale. The Tobit model was used to assess factors driving urban
consumers' willingness to pay for safer kale. The study targeted four market segments in Nairobi
namely high-end specialty stores, supermarkets, open-air markets and roadside market. These
markets were therefore selected to represent high, medium and low income kale consumers.
Systematic random sampling was used to select the respondents. Every third person who bought
kale in the targeted markets segments was interviewed. Data was collected from respondents
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through personal interviews using pre-tested questionnaires. The data collected included a broad
range of quality attributes (safety, sensory/visual attributes, nutrition, environmental friendliness,
hygiene in handling, and ethics), consumer perceptions towards safety of kales, household
demographic information, social capital, and willingness to pay values or figures.
The study found that consumer's perception on vegetable safety varied with market segment and
level of education. A high number of kale consumers (89%) indicated that they knew about food
safety. However, only a few respondents indicated that they were aware of how leafy vegetables
from peri-urban areas were produced (38 percent) or handled in the market or during
transportation (26 percent). The study also found that consumer ranked safety, sensory/visual
quality and hygiene as the most important attributes. The study further found that willingness to
pay for kale safety ranged from 30 t070 percent depending on the market segment. This range of
willingness to pay was comparable to those of other studies in similar environments. The study
found that lifestyle, income, education, access to information about food safety from social
networks and consumers' perceptions influenced willingness to pay for kales safety.

The findings of this study imply that public awareness of health risks associated with food
production processes needs to be promoted. This could be achieved through the use of social
,

networks especially those that focus on health issues related to food safety. High willingness to
pay for safety of kale indicated that consumers place high value on the safety of leafy vegetables
and suggests the existence of great potential for domestic market actors to improve the leafy
vegetable value chains by focusing on delivering safety. In addition, given that quality or safety
attributes are credence attributes, the findings of this study imply that there is need for
government or private sector regulation of the leafy vegetables production and retailing
practices.

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