Market conduct and performance of wild and semi-wild food plants traded in Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom, Uganda
This study assessed the market conduct and performance of wild and semi-wild food plants (WSWFPs) traded in Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom, Uganda. A rapid market survey (RMS) was conducted in 17 local markets in Kibanda County. Market prices and weekly volumes of traded WSWFPs were compared with some of the selected conventional food plants traded in the same locality. Weekly volumes of traded WSWFPs based on the usual units of the measurement (including bundles and heaps) within the markets were estimated per species sold. The profit margin was computed per traded species. Transport expenses were excluded in the cost computation because only 4% of the traders incurred transport expenses in form of hired bicycles. Out of 62 WSWFPs belonging to 31 botanical families documented as edible in the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom, about 47% belonging to 12 botanical families were traded in formal and informal markets. Market information system was largely rudimentary and undeveloped, and traders rely mainly on information from fellow traders as well as their customers to make market decisions. Traded products were primarily delivered to markets on foot and using bicycles. Currently, there are no definite or formal mechanisms of setting prices of traded WSWFPs; most traders relied on the daily market demand, time and risks involved in gathering process, information of the price of substitute food and prices from other areas, knowledge of the past seasons’ prices, and on the costs incurred from the suppliers. With exception of few species such as Physalis peruviana and Basella alba, weekly volumes of traded WSWFPs were low as compared to most conventional food crops. On the other hand, prices of most traded WSWFPs were generally similar to those of alternative conventional food plants marketed in the area. Some WSWFPs like Hibiscus acetosella, B. alba and Hyptis spicigera (seeds), had higher market prices per unit measurement as compared to the related conventional food plants. Average weekly profits yielded from the trade of various WSWFPs were moderate and ranged from UGX 764.5 to 6754.2 (USD 0.38 to 3.36). The highest return came from species such as H. spicigera, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Aframomum angustifolium, Borassus aethiopum, B. alba, Solanum nigrum, Aframomum alboviolaceum and Canarium schweinfurthii.
Key words: Market conduct, market performance, wild edibles, wild foods, Uganda