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The influence of cowpea characteristics on cowpea prices in Senegal



In examining demand for a product it is useful to think of consumers not as purchasing the product, but as purchasing its characteristics that provide utility. Consequently, it is important to measure the specific characteristics that consumers perceive as providing them with utility. In this article a hedonic pricing model is used to investigate the influence of different cowpea characteristics on cowpea prices in Senegal. The results provide valuable information for research institutions, producers, and traders. Cowpea plant breeders should emphasise large grain size as the main characteristic since buyers are willing to pay a premium for this characteristic. This should translate into higher returns on R&D. There exist differences between markets in terms of consumer preferences for testa colour and texture. The result is that sorting and grading of cowpeas according to these characteristics should increase profits, as there would be fewer discounts for undesired characteristics. The importance of adequate storage is also emphasized to protect seeds against insect damage. Finally, it appears that prices in different markets are not equally responsive to changes in the supply of cowpeas. Higher returns could hence be realized through more efficient sequencing of sales.

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