Rural Bangladeshi consumers’ (un)willingness to pay for low-milled rice: Implications for zinc biofortification
September 15, 2022 - Author: Caitlin L. Herrington, Mywish K. Maredia, David L. Ortega, Victor Taleon, Ekin Birol, Abdur Rouf Sarkar, Shajedur Rahaman
Herrington, C. L., Maredia, M. K., Ortega, D. L., Taleon, V., Birol, E., Sarkar, M. A. R., & Rahaman, M. S. (2022). Rural Bangladeshi consumers’ (un)willingness to pay for low‐milled rice: Implications for zinc biofortification. Agricultural Economics.
Zinc deficiency is a severe public health problem in Bangladesh. We examine the effects of nutritional information on rural consumers’ willingness-to-pay (WTP) for two ways to increase zinc intake through rice, the main staple crop–low-milling that gives rice grains a distinctive light brown color (a visible trait) and sets it apart from the culturally preferred high-milled white rice grain and biofortification of rice with increased zinc content (an invisible trait), which is also low-milled to retain maximum zinc content. Results of our economic experiments suggest that with nutritional information, consumers are willing to pay a premium of 4.6% for zinc biofortified rice compared to non-biofortified rice, when milled at the same level. However, results confirm the strong preference for high-milled rice by Bangladeshi consumers who discounted low-milled rice by 8%–10% even after receiving information on the nutritional benefits of biofortified or low-milled rice. We find that consumers’ WTP for the two high-zinc-low-milled rice types (biofortified and non-biofortified) is positively correlated with being a female, more educated, belonging to households engaged in non-farm activities and with children under 5 years of age. Results point to the importance of nutritional awareness campaigns for increasing zinc biofortified and low-milled rice consumption and guiding the targeting strategy for such campaigns. Given the consumer preference for high-milled rice, this study also points to the need for exploring the rice fortification strategy to address the challenge of malnutrition.