A national survey of rice (Oryza sativa L.) grain quality in Sierra Leone I: Perception of traders and consumers
As Sierra Leone approaches self-sufficiency in rice, against a backdrop of agricultural commercialization, the dynamics of the rice grain production and consumption will increasingly be driven by the quality of grains demanded by consumers to be produced by farmers and marketed by traders in the open market. The present study was a national perception survey aimed at establishing the current status of rice grain quality based on the perspectives of traders and consumers interviewed at selected market places in four major cities across the country. In separate interviews
conducted with315 consumers and traders selected at random from 45 markets around the country, individual responses were solicited on the general interests of consumers and traders, as well as the marketing practices and aspirations for the improvement of rice grain quality in the country. Results obtained from the two surveys suggest that the priorities of rice consumers for grain quality were generally similar to those of the
traders. For example, between to 63 to 100 per cent (84 %all cities) of consumers and 69 to 100 percent (88% all cities) of traders interviewed indicated preference for imported rice, with a significant positive correlation (r = 0.78) between the two groups. Among rice products found in the market, the imported high swelling, long grain rice was shown to be preferred by both traders and consumers, due mostly to the high swelling power and non-seasonal market availability of that grain type. Other results suggest that both traders and consumers desire further improvement in grain quality, even though they do not consider this to be of high priority. The study leads to the conclusion that imported rice products are more popular than local rice products among rice traders and consumers in Sierra Leone. It is speculated that such preference might have been driven directly by the priorities of household food decisions and indirectly by the general socio-economics of food production and consumption in the country.
Keywords: Rice grain quality, consumers, Sierra Leone