IEE Newsletter No. 25

Urban Food Plus: Completion of Research Activities in Burkina Faso, Extension to Cameroon

After successfully passing the mid-term evaluation in 2015, the BMBF-funded African-German research consortium “Urban Food Plus” (UFP) is now in its second phase. Martina Shakya and Christina Seeger provide an update on recent project activities in Burkina Faso and Cameroon.

The IEE’s contribution to the five-year research project is the evaluation of the economic implications of agricultural innovations on urban farmers and consumers, focusing on biochar as a soil amendment and improved irrigation technology. In the past months, we completed the research tasks in the West African cities of Tamale (Ghana) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), and have started to expand our activities to Bamenda (Cameroon) and Bamako (Mali).

Establishing Urban Consumers’ Willingness to Pay

UFP Cabbage Field TamaleSmallholder farmers cultivating in and around West African cities have the advantage of close proximity to the urban market. However, they often lack access to sufficient, clean irrigation water. Many urban farmers rely on the use of wastewater and other unsafe irrigation sources. They may also lack knowledge regarding the safe use of agrochemicals and the hygienic handling of their produce. As a consequence, consumers are exposed to health risks, especially when consuming vegetables that are eaten raw, such as lettuces, cabbage, tomatoes and carrots. Above on the left: cabbage field in Tamale, Ghana. Below: market woman in Tamale, Ghana (photos: private).

UFP Market women Tamale

The IEE team, therefore, wants to examine urban consumers’ awareness of food-related risks and their willingness to pay (WTP) for locally produced vegetables with certain properties under two different risk scenarios. Under the first scenario, consumers’ WTP for safe but uncertified vegetables (i.e. vegetables not guaranteed to be safe through certification) will be elicited. The second scenario aims to establish consumers’ WTP for certified safe vegetables. The data from randomised surveys among urban consumers in the four UFP cities will reveal not just the scope but also the determinants of WTP in the specific local context, including those related to consumption patterns and risk attitudes. The WTP studies are closely linked to the other research tasks of the IEE team within UFP, which examine incentives for the adoption of agricultural innovations such as wastewater filtration technologies. The price premiums on current market prices that consumers are willing to pay for safe and certified vegetables are an indication of the viability of food certification schemes and the adoption prospects for wastewater filtration systems.

Coordinated by IEE research fellow Christina Seeger, masters students from RUB’s faculty of Management and Economics (Melanie Chrobok, Diana Tuchak, and Arne Nasgowitz) as well as students from the University for Development Studies (UDS) in Tamale, Ghana (Adinan Bahahudeen, James Kunituo, and Mensah Tawiah Cobbinah) are involved in the data collection for the WTP studies in Tamale, Ouagadougou, and Bamenda, using standardized questionnaires. The RUB students will write their theses under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Löwenstein and Christina Seeger. The Ghanaian students are being supervised by Dr. Samuel Donkoh, Head of Department, Agricultural and Resource Economics at UDS.

Starting with the data collection in Ouagadougou in September 2016, Adinan worked on the uncertified safe vegetable study, while Melanie (RUB) and James (UDS) jointly collected data for assessing urban consumers‘ WTP for certified safe vegetables during an 11-week stay in Burkina Faso. After completion of the field research in Ouagadougou, the safe vegetable study was replicated in Tamale in November and December 2016 by UDS student Mensah Tawiah Cobbinah. Christina Seeger joined the initial phase of Mr Cobbinah‘s data collection in order to adapt the questionnaire and sampling approach to the local conditions.

Costs of Illness in Ouagadougou

Apart from the WTP surveys, a cost of illness (COI) study was conducted in the same time period in Ouagadougou by Jan Wüstenfeld (RUB) and Mohammed Abdulai (UDS). The aim of this study was to find out more about the health risks faced by urban farmers and illness-related costs assumed to be associated with wastewater irrigation. The Ouagadougou study replicates the approach of another COI study, which was conducted by RUB student Carla Swertz in Tamale in 2014/2015.

Bringing Ghanaian and German researchers together for the WTP and COI studies in Ouagadougou has been a very special experience for those involved. Without any doubt, the international composition of the WTP and COI study teams provided the Ghanaian and German students with an opportunity for mutual learning, building intercultural competence and team management skills.

First Research Activities in Cameroon

UFP Cultivated area BamendaFollowing a first exploratory trip of IEE researchers Nicole Dittrich, Marc Hansen, and Tobias Thürer to Cameroon in June 2016, we are currently expanding our research activities to Bamenda (On the right: cultivated area in Bamenda (photo: private)). The field work for the two WTP studies in Bamenda began in mid-March 2017 and is currently being carried out by the two RUB students, Diana Tuchak and Arne Nasgowitz, who will have finished their work by the end of May 2017. As in Ouagadougou and Tamale, each WTP study targets a sample of 300-350 randomly selected households, using a spatial, GIS-based sampling approach.

On the picture on the right below, you can see Diana Tuchak and her assistant locating urban households with the help of GPS devices (photo: private).UFP Bamenda GPS

UFP Bamenda Interview

Arne Nasgowitz and his assistant Hennock Burinyuy conducting an interview in Bamenda (photo: private)

Outstanding Work

IEE research fellow Nicole Dittrich, together with RUB students Henrike Roth (Management & Economics) and Marina Schauerte (Geography/Soil Sciences), will soon continue previous research done in Cameroon by conducting a productivity survey among urban farmers in Bamenda. In the context of this study, apart from interviews with farm households, soil samples will be taken from each surveyed farm. The study replicates the almost completed research work of PhD student Lesley Hope, in Tamale and Ouagadougou, which investigates the adoption potential of biochar as a soil amendment. After a very busy phase of field activity, a massive amount of empirical data has been or is in the process of being collected, and we look forward to the outstanding data analyses and the generation of research results.

Finally, another WTP study in Tamale will be conducted from August to September 2017. Plans are underway to start the last round of research activities in Bamako, the capital of Mali, at the end of this year. Bamako will be the fourth and final West African city where we will be working in the context of UFP, and we are optimistic that we will conclude all our research activities by the end of the project in 2018.


Dr. Martina Shakya
Postdoctoral Fellow, Urban Food Plus
E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: +49 (0)234 / 32-25149
Fax: +49 (0)234 / 32-14294

Christina Seeger, M.Sc.
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: +49 (0)234 / 32-25153
Fax: +49 (0)234 / 32-14294

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