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The study analysed the marketing of dry season vegetables in South-East Nigeria. This study was carried out with five specific objectives. The specific objectives included (i) description of the channel, as well as the analysis of the structure and conduct of marketing of dry season vegetables in South-East Nigeria; Objective (ii) determined the marketing margins of dry season vegetables marketers; (iii) determined the effect of the constraints on the margins of dry season vegetables marketers; (iv) determined the price causality in the marketers’ prices of dry season vegetables; (v) measured the extent of market integration of dry season vegetables in the study area. Multi-stage sampling technique was used to select a total sample size of 227 respondents for the study. Data was collected for 61 days using 2 sets of structured questionnaires for the wholesalers and the retailers. Data were analyzed using simple descriptive statistics, Gini coefficient model, marketing margin analyses, Pearson Chi-square model, Granger causality tests and Bivariate autoregressive model of Dynamic spatial and temporal market model. The results showed that there were no barriers to entry and exit in and out of the vegetables markets during the dry season period. Also, eight (8) marketing channels were identified and described for Ugu and Okra respectively. The marketing margin analyses showed a high percentage margin of Okra marketers as 93%, and that of Ugu marketers as 79%, implying that dry season vegetables marketing is a profitable business venture in the study area. The identified constraints included: problem of storage, high transport cost, lack of market, poor sales, lack of market stalls, poor preservation facilities, weather problem and inadequate capital. Pearson Chi-square results showed that few constraints such as problem of weather, lack of market stalls, lack of market, problem of weather and problem of poor sales were significant to the marketers’ margins either at 5% or 10% levels of significance. Granger causality test showed that there was bilateral price causality existing between the farmgate and wholesale prices, as well as bilateral price causality relationships between the wholesale and their retail prices respectively. There was no causality relationship between the farmgate and the retail prices. But there was a unidirectional price causality relationship existing between the wholesale price of Okra and retail price, and not the other way. Bivariate autoregressive model which was used to measure the extent of integration amongst the vegetables markets ascertained that there was significant relationship between the central and local market prices for Ugu wholesalers and retailers, as well as Okra wholesalers and retailers. From the result, it showed that there is an instantaneous adjustment to price changes in the market pairs of the marketers, an indication of perfect competitiveness amongst them, suggesting the existence of non-collusive pricing arrangement. Hypothesis (i) was accepted and rejected for the marketers’ prices, based on the judgment from their results. For instance, there were bilateral price causalities for both Ugu wholesalers’ and retailers ’ purchase and selling prices. On the other hand, hypothesis (ii) was also accepted and rejected based on the findings. For example, it was rejected Ugu retailers, Okra wholesalers and Okra retailers, because their local and central markets were integrated at 5%, 5% and 1% significant levels. The study therefore, recommended that government should build sufficient and modern market stalls to ensure and foster conducive environment and as well provide hygienic environment for their sales. Moreso, waste places and incinerators should be built by the government in order to maintain a clean market environment. Government should build new roads and repair worn out roads, as well as construct railways to link the northern regions due to huge supplies from there; marketers should form market associations, which will in turn bring about easy access to information as well as lower transaction costs. There is need for improved information on current market prices, margins and supply situation of the marketers; as well as need to strengthen emphasis with research on dry season marketing of vegetables.
Agriculture is receiving increasing attention as an instrument for growth, especially going by the World Development Report 2008 (WDR) titled “Agriculture for Development” (World Bank, 2007). Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in all developing countries (World Bank, 2008). Agriculture remains the largest sector of the Nigerian economy, where it plays an important role as food provider, employer of labour, foreign exchange earner, key contributor to wealth and poverty alleviation (Onyishi, 2010). From statistics, agriculture contributes about 31% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with crops accounting for 87%, livestock 7%, fisheries 4% and forestry 2% (Central Bank of Nigeria, 2011). It employs about 51.3% of the labour force in Nigeria and accounts for 70% contribution to GDP of the non-oil sector (Mang, 2009; National Bureau of Statistics, 2010; World Bank, 2010; Achike and Ichoku, 2011). With the projected annual population growth rate of 5.5% and food production annual growth rate of 3.2% in the country, there is need to improve the agricultural system in Nigeria (Adebisi-Adelani, Olajide-Taiwo, Adeoye and Olajide-Taiwo, 2011; CBN, 2011).
According to Akintoye, Adekunle and Kintomo (2011), agriculture is the bedrock of the Nigerian economy. What must be made clear is that crop agriculture, with limited support already supplies a significant share of food, especially fresh vegetables. Fresh vegetables add to the important component of diversified diets which improve dietary quality. They could be boiled, fried or cooked and consumed in different forms. In Nigeria, vegetables are usually boiled in water resulting in soups and sauces, which are relished. They also serve as soup thickeners and are one of the most expensive items in the food basket of the nation (Schippers, 2000; Egbuna, 2009; Kennedy, Razes, Ballard and Dop, 2011).
In Nigeria, the term vegetable is frequently used to refer to leafy plants whose succulent stem portions, petioles and leaves are mainly cooked and eaten in soups and stews (Okunlola, 2009; Aju and Popoola, 2010). Vegetables are among the major dietary intake in our everyday life. Vegetables, in their fresh form, contain high percentage (75% or more) of water, and 25% or less of dry matter (Ajayi and Nwalieji, 2010). They include edible leaves of different colours with less starch content. Vegetables are rich sources of many essential micronutrients and are loaded with health-related phytochemicals and anti-oxidants (De la Rosa, Alvarez-Parrilla and Gonzalez-Aguilar, 2010).
They are of great nutritive value and are important sources of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and dietary fibres, thus essential components of the human diet (Aju and Popoola, 2010;
Uguru, 2011). Some roots and tubers are consumed in the case of carrots as vegetable, fresh pods as in vegetable cowpea; immature fruits as in Okra; ripe fruits as in tomato; tender leaves as in green; young shoot as in Ora; immature flower as in cauliflower; and whole shoots as in elephant grass or in bulbs for e.g. onions to improve the vitamin and mineral intake in the body (Agbugba and Nwagbo, 2006; Okoli, 2009; Mukherjee, 2011).
According to Farinde, Owolarafe and Ogungbemi (2007) vegetables such as Okra are suitable for medicinal and industrial applications and have medically found application as a plasma replacement or blood volume expander. In other words, they are generally regarded as very essential plant having high moisture content in fresh forms with considerable quantities of vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K, which helps to protect the body against diseases and contributes in no small measures to good health (Alderson, Herman and Mitchell, 2012). They are part of high perishable good commodity, which is collectively known as horticultural food products. Olericulture is a branch of horticulture which studies vegetables. They comprise approximately 25% of the major food commodities in our country as other less developed countries (Food and Agricultural Organization, 2011).
Vegetables are among the living things and hence carry out their physiological function of respiration, thereby absorbing and releasing gases and other materials from and to their environment (Idah, Ajisegiri and Yisa, 2007). Vegetables have tremendous potentials to address poverty alleviation and nutritional security because they are affordable and easily available, easy to grow and require minimum production inputs (Nwauwa and Omonona, 2010). According to Pasquini and Young (2009), the nutritional security of a country can be achieved only when enough vegetables are consumed. However, this study will focus on some selected African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs), with special interest on leafy and fruit vegetable classes, which are Telfairia (Ugu or fluted pumpkin) and Abelmoschus (Okra).
According to Okunlola (2009), vegetables are among the most important and widely cultivated food and income generating crop in many parts of Africa. They are cultivated extensively by both small scale farmers and large scale enterprises. They can give high yield per unit area of land and hence generate high income for the vegetable farmers. Worldwide production of vegetable such as Okra is estimated at six million tonnes per year. In West Africa, it is estimated at 500,000 to 600,000 tonnes per year (Burkill, 1997; Agbugba, Nweze, Achike and Obi, 2013). In Nigeria, enormous quantities of vegetables are produced, and staggering figures are sometimes given as estimated annual production. For example Idah et al. (2007) quoted figures like 3.8 million tonnes of onions and 6 million tonnes of tomatoes as annual production levels for some vegetables, which are really large quantities of food crops. The amount of vegetable produce available to the consumer by the marketer is more important, rather than the level of
vegetable production, given the costs incurred in their marketing, items of transportation from producing areas and the quantities that perish during transportation (Erinle, 1989; Egbuna, 2009; Muhanji, Roothaert, Webo and Mwangi, 2011). Consequently, marketing of vegetable is complex and challenging because of their special characteristics which include: perishability, seasonality, high economic value and standardization requirement (International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies, 2008; Adebisi-Adelani et al., 2011).
There has been concern over the years regarding the efficiency of vegetable marketing. Nwachukwu and Onyenweaku (2007) noted that economic efficiency depends on the market forces, which in turn are influenced by the sectoral and marketing polices of a country. The marketing of vegetable is complex due to its perishable and seasonal nature, as well as its bulkiness. Vegetable marketing is a very vital component of the vegetable industry and there is therefore, a need to move from undeveloped marketing of vegetables to a more viable way of marketing them to specified requirements of variety, size, colour, flavour, moisture content, packaging and seasonality (Ngugi, Gitau and Nyoro, 2006; Hosmani, 2007).
The marketing channel of vegetable crops is an important part of its cost, and its location to the market may shorten the path of distribution from producers to consumers and makes the marketing process simple and efficient (Egbuna, 2009). Efficiency in the marketing of vegetables is borne on the platter of an efficient market information provision. In the marketing of vegetable, farmers as well as marketers determine the flow of information from the farm to the market place. The co-movement of prices to the smooth transmission of price signals and information across spatially separated markets is referred to as market integration (Oladapo and Momoh, 2007). In order words, market integration is enhanced by the provision of transport infrastructure, provision of adequate formal marketing information and standardization of weights and measures in the marketing system (Dittoh, 1994; Oladapo, 2004; Mari, 2009).
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