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by Nhuong Tran, Kelvin Mashisia Shikuku, and Sara Gustafson

Photo by World Bank


Although food safety is an important pillar of food and nutrition security, it is often overlooked, particularly in developing country contexts. In 2010, foodborne illnesses caused 420,000 deaths and 33 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) worldwide, with Africa suffering most. Fish and seafood safety poses a particular concern. Consumption of these highly nutritious but highly perishable foods has increased in Africa in recent years, as have public and private interventions to address fish and seafood safety. As aquaculture grows to meet increasing demand, associated health risks due to chemical (specifically antibiotic contamination) and biological hazards have also increased.

 Governments and the private sector in the global south have recognized the need to regulate aquaculture activities to ensure a supply of safe, high-quality fish products. In response to the need for a greater understanding of farmed fish value chains and the growing demand for seafood safety, a new study, Demand for seafood safety and environmental sustainability certification standards in sub-Saharan Africa: The case of Nigeria, was undertaken by WorldFish. The study used a bidding experiment involving fish consumers at points of purchase in four divisions of Lagos state, Nigeria to assess their willingness to pay (WTP) for food safety; value chain performance and governance assessment; and a randomized control trial (RCT) to assess farmers’ participation in food safety certification schemes and its potential impacts.

Willingness to pay for food safety

Results of the bidding experiment showed that consumers are willing to pay 416 Naira for 500g of uncertified live catfish. This increased marginally (≈3.4%) to 430 Naira for 500g of safety certified live catfish. Consumers’ WTP for 1000g of live catfish increased from 594 Naira for uncertified fish to 619 Naira for certified fish, corresponding to a 4.2% increase in WTP. For smoked fish, consumers were willing to pay 852 Naira for 250g of uncertified fish, 5.3% lower than the same amount paid for safety certified smoked fish. Consumers’ WTP was highest for 500g of certified smoked catfish: 1,505 Naira compared to 1,258 for uncertified fish, representing 19.6% increase in WTP. These results show consumers’ overall WTP for certified fish.

There also appears to be asymmetry in consumers’ valuation of fish safety. Consumers paid higher premiums for larger fish than smaller fish and for smoked than live fish. Figure 1 presents bid distributions for the eight fish products studied. The bid distribution for certified fish stochastically dominates that of uncertified fish across all sizes and forms of fish products.

Figure 1. Distribution of consumer bids for safety certified and uncertified fish products Notes: NLM=Uncertified, live, 500g catfish; NLL=Uncertified, live, 1kg catfish; NSM=Uncertified, smoked, 500g catfish; NSL=Uncertified, smoked, 1kg catfish; CLM=Certified, live, 500g catfish; CLL=Certified, live, 1kg catfish; CSM=Certified, smoked, 500g catfish; CSL=Certified, smoked, 1kg catfish.

Value chain performance and government assessment

Results from the value chain performance and governance survey showed that Nigeria’s fish value chains are economically viable, with over 80% of post-farmgate value chain actors making a profit. Analysis of cost composition shows that labor and transport account for about 65% of the total variable costs along the post-farmgate segments of farmed fish value chains. This suggests substantial employment creation along the value chains.

At the production stage, aquaculture operation in Nigeria is male-dominated. However, women’s participation in aquaculture activities increases considerably at post-farmgate stages of the value chain. At the retailer level, women substantially dominate men in terms of employment across all age categories. A similar pattern is observed at the processor level, although the differences are not as wide as those observed at the retailer level. However, at the wholesale stage, more men than women are employed across different age groups, except for 36-45 years old; in this age group, the proportion of women employed in wholesale is four times that of men.


Can premiums from domestic markets be transferred to producers for fish quality and safety improvement?

Descriptive evidence from key informant interviews and producer household surveys revealed farmers’ willingness to participate in fish food safety certification schemes In Nigeria. More than 70% of the 648 producers interviewed indicated they would be interested in participating in a certification scheme if one were to be established. The most important perceived benefits of aquaculture certification, from a producer’s perspective, include higher price and higher demand for fish. Among the major perceived barriers to participation in certification are high costs, lack of trust in the certifying agents, and difficulty satisfying certification requirements. An RCT is currently ongoing to assess the feasibility of fish food safety certification among aquaculture producers in Nigeria and to evaluate the potential welfare impacts of participation.

Calling for stakeholder actions to improve fish food safety in Nigeria

Several actions are needed to drive forward improvements in fish food safety in Nigeria. These include:

• upgrading and aligning fish value chains to communicate willingness to pay signal from consumers to producers;
• building capacity and improving coordination for implementing fish safety certification; and • improving certification scheme design and implementation (e.g., paying attention to asymmetry of certification schemes).

About Authors/Citations

Nhuong Tran ( and Kelvin Mashisia Shikuku (, scientists with WorldFish are principle investigator and co-investigator on “Demand for seafood safety and sustainable certification standards in sub-Saharan Africa: the case of Nigeria” project, funded by CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM), Fish Agri-food Systems (FISH), and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

 Sara Gustafson is a freelance writer.

Citation: Shikuku, K. M., Tran, N., Pincus, L., Hoffmann, V., Lagerkvist, C. J., Akintola, S. L., ... & Muliro, J. (2020). Experimental and survey-based data on willingness to pay for seafood safety and environmental sustainability certification in Nigeria. Data in Brief, 105540.



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