Application of a value chain approach to understanding white kenkey production, vending and consumption practices in three districts of Ghana
Traditional processing and street vending of foods is a vital activity in the informal sector of the Ghanaian economy and offers livelihood for a large number of traditional food processors. Kenkey is a fermented maize ‘dumpling’ produced by traditional food processors in Ghana. Ga and Fante kenkey have received research attention and there is a lot of scientific information on kenkey production. White kenkey produced from dehulled maize grains is a less known kind of kenkey. A survey was held in three districts of Ghana to study production, vending and consumption of white kenkey and to identify major bottlenecks related to production, which can be addressed in studies to re-package kenkey for a wider market. Questionnaires were designed for producers, vendors and consumers of white kenkey to collate information on Socio-cultural data, processing technologies, frequency of production and consumption, product shelf life, reasons for consumption and quality attributes important to consumers using proportional sampling. The survey was conducted in white kenkey production zones and trade centers. Results showed that production of white kenkey is done on small-scale levels by middle-aged women in households with 10-50 kg of dehulled maize processed into white kenkey, 1-3 times weekly. A third (28%) of the women processed up to 50-100 kg of maize per week. Although 62% of vendors sell 50-100 balls of white kenkey daily, 15% of them sell more than 170 balls. Majority of consumers (45.9%) liked white kenkey because of its convenience (ready-to-eat). Texture and taste were quality attributes desired by kenkey consumers. Producers did not have written records of process controls and product throughputs. Inspite of their cottage nature, production of white kenkey is a profitable employment for producers and vendors and is popular among consumers. Product improvement, process and product characteristics could offer scale-up criteria for development of white kenkey production using standardized procedures for steeping times, steeping temperature and fermentation times.
Keywords: maize, white kenkey, value chain, traditional, product development, re-engineering