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1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Agriculture is a major sector of the Nigeria economy. From the nation's earliest days, Agriculture has held a crucial place in the Nigerian economy and culture and plays an important role in the society; the provision of food through agriculture is man’s first priority for his continuous existence. Agriculture is very important to the world economy especially Nigeria and other developing countries of Africa. It not only meets the food needs of the entire population but also supplements the foreign exchange resources through export of farm produce as well as provide raw materials for our industries. It is also a vital development tool and has features that make is a unique instrument for development. Over 60% of Nigerians practice agriculture in different scales. In economic terms, Agriculture was a major revenue earner for Nigeria. Prior to the discovery of oil in Nigeria in 1958 at Olobiri-near Port Harcourt, the country’s economy was largely driven by Agriculture through the export of agricultural cash crops such as cocoa, rubber, kola nut, cotton, hides and skins, groundnut, palm produce. Agriculture is and still remains an important sector of the Nigerian economy in spite of the importance of crude oil which has been unduly emphasized over agriculture. No doubt, agriculture provides the greatest avenue for employment generation, income and food for the Nigerian populace. Its intrinsic position as a source of raw materials for key industries and a major source of foreign exchange earnings has further added to its pre-eminence among all known occupations. The Nigerian agricultural trade policy ensures food security, promotes domestic trade, enhances access to agricultural raw materials as well as promotes the use of modern technology and promotion of
quality agricultural products. Recognizing the tremendous potentials of agricultural products, the government has accepted the view to make agriculture the mainstay of the economy.
Agricultural marketing therefore deals with the transfer of agricultural produce from the farms to the consumption centres. It covers the services involved in moving an agricultural product from the farm-gate to the ultimate consumers. Numerous interrelated activities are involved in doing this, such as planning production, growing and harvesting, grading, packing, food processing, distribution, advertising and sale of agricultural produce. One of the interests of the farmers is to get a fair return on their produce in the market. At present the farmers who are spread all over the country make the sales of their surplus products to the villagers. Some portion of the output is also sold direct or through marketing agencies (middlemen) in the markets. The way the produce is sold does not guarantee adequate return to the farmers. However, value-added agriculture allows farmers to differentiate their products from the products of others. Product differentiation means that your product is somehow different or better than that of the others. The way to bring this difference to the attention of your customer is by branding your product. Branding allows you to clearly identify and personalize the superior nature of your product relative to those of your competitors. If your brand succeeds in convincing your customer that you have a superior product, it follows that the customer will be willing to pay more for your product relative to the products of your competitors. A branding strategy is often employed in the marketing of manufactured or processed food products but many other food products including agricultural products have comparatively lower levels of branding; hence the frequent calls to utilize branding as a marketing strategy for Agricultural products. Branding is essential for advertising effectiveness; this is because it is branding that distinguishes
similar products of different manufacturers. It helps consumer to establish the brand, and identify its various producers. Branding according to Kotler (2003:413), is the use of a name, term, symbol or design to identify a product. A good brand speeds up shopping for customers and this reduces the marketers selling time and effort.
When brand is emphasized, it is an inducement to get the buyer to develop loyalty and carry out repeat purchases. A brand also identifies the firm behind the product and this offers a guarantee of consistent quality or even satisfaction. To a seller or marketer, branding present an opportunity to aggressively stimulate demand for his product. Unless it is branded, a potential customer has no way of identifying the product a particular seller or marketer is offering. Besides, only branded products can meaningfully be advertised and distinguished from substitutes in order to meet up with the challenges of competition in the market.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM.
The food crisis in Nigeria can be attributed to the neglect of agriculture which provides food for the people, raw materials for industries and employment opportunity for the majority of Nigerians. This is assumed to be the sole cause of the decline in recent years of Agricultural marketing in Nigeria. Marketing of agricultural products which has been a major source of income to most farmers in Nigeria has been characterized with a lot of deficiencies which have constrained sustainable development and marketing in one way or the other. This stems from the fact that most agricultural producers are not well educated and lack the prerequisite knowledge on how best to package their produce in order to remain competitive in the market. Until recently agricultural marketers did not lay emphasis on the branding and packaging of their produce. Competition in the agricultural sector has
contributed a lot to the present form of the packaging of agricultural produce. However, some agricultural farmers/firms have not appreciated the need to make some periodic re-evaluation of the impact of packaging in the marketing of their produce and to find out if the traditional packaging used by producers had gone beyond those of product protection and containment.
Farmers have normally sold their products as commodities. This means that there is no appreciable difference between the produce of a farmer and that of another farmer. Nigeria’s agricultural marketing competitiveness has been bedevilled by a lot of market related factors that has to do with the absence of standardization of products in the market place. Standardized system of grading and measurement, which enhances marketing efficiency, is not a feature of agricultural markets in Nigeria. Grades are determined arbitrarily by sizes, colour or smell. Measures come in various types of metal and plastic bowls, dishes, tins, baskets and calabashes. Most of the measures are susceptible to manipulation to change volume, in an attempt to take advantage of buyers. In addition, sorting, branding and packaging activities which are not carried out further reduces the ability of using a sound marketing system to boost farmers’ income and ensure adequate protection of consumers in the country. The study would therefore address the importance of branding as a strategy for effective Agricultural marketing in Nigeria and its ability to make agricultural marketing more effective and competitive.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The research work would be anchored on the following objectives;
1. To determine the attributes, benefits, values and beliefs that consumers derive from branded products and the effect of branding strategy on the marketing of Agricultural products.
2. To Assess how branding influence consumers’ choice and increase the number of users of Agricultural products in Nigeria.
3. To determine the extent branding contributes to profit making among Agricultural producers.
4. To determine if branding contributes to effective distribution and segmentation of agricultural markets.
5. To evaluate the role branding plays in the pricing of agricultural products in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Apparently some of the questions the study intend to give answers to include:
1. Does branding as strategy have effect on the marketing of Agricultural products in Nigeria and increase their patronage of such products?
2. How does branding influence the choice of the consumers of Agricultural produce?
3. What contribution has branding as a strategy on profit making amongst Agricultural producers?
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