Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture

Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture No. 1/09

The value of yam diversity in the transition Guinea Sudan zone of Benin:
market evidence

Afio Zannou
University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin

Paul C. Struik and Paul Richards
Wageningen University, The Netherlands


Preferences of traders and consumers for different yam varieties were analysed in Benin. Prices varied by variety, showing that the market valued distinct crop traits differently. These varietal price differentials were present throughout the year and across years. The use for which each variety was appreciated, was the most important factor determining the selling price. The study showed that the main quality criteria for poundable varieties were plasticity, absence of knobs, taste, and swelling. The quality of the paste depends on the quality of the dried slices. The quality criteria of the dried slices included possibility for long storage, absence of blackening during drying, absence of fibres inside the tuber, strong swelling of the paste, and high eating quality of the paste and the wassa-wassa (also called “African couscous”). These market data confirm that successful varietal technology development on food crops ought to include reference to consumer preferences, including cultural preferences.

Keywords: price differentials, quality criteria, farmer varieties, Dioscorea spp.

JEL: Q 190

Vol. 48 (2009), No. 1: 67-80