Tuesday 6 August 2013


In the course of your training in Agriculture at both the Junior and Senior Secondary School levels, you have learnt about the basic technical and social factors involved in agricultural production. All these factors contribute towards increasing the farmer’s productivity.
In order to achieve higher levels of productivity, it is important to familiarize and educate our farmers with the improved technologies and methods of production. This can only be achieved through an efficient agricultural extension service. The adoption of improved production techniques leads to high productivity, with farmers producing more than they can consume (surplus). Hence, there is the need to provide outlets for farmers to profitably dispose of this surplus. Moreover, farmers  also need to sell their produce to enable them to purchase other items which they need hence, agricultural marketing is very central to agricultural production.
In this unit, therefore, we shall learn about the importance of agricultural extension and the methods of disseminating new technologies and ideas to farmers. We shall also learn about the importance of agricultural marketing, and the conduct of marketing through various agents and outlets.   
A market is a place where buyers and sellers meet to exchange goods and services. Markets are necessary because people are not capable of producing all the things they require for their survival. Even in the olden days when money was not introduced as a medium of exchange, people exchanged goods by barter. The appearance of money facilitated greater exchange of products and modern telecommunications have succeeded in widening the scope of commodity exchange activities. Therefore, marketing is an integral part of the production process.
In this chapter, we shall discuss the meaning and importance of agricultural marketing and the functions of various marketing agents and channels. At the end of this chapter, you should be able to:
1.      State the meaning and importance of agricultural marketing;
2.      List the various marketing agents and market outlets in Nigeria; and
3.      State the advantages and disadvantages of the various marketing agents.
Agricultural marketing comprises all activities that take place from the point of production (farm gate) to the final consumer. These activities include transportation, grading, processing, storage, and the act of buying and selling. This simples that production in most cases will be useless without complementary marketing activities. The importance of marketing moreover increases with:
1.      Economic development;
2.      Separation of production areas from areas of consumption;
3.      The need for spreading the consumption of a range of products over time beyond immediate post production needs.
Contrary to popular belief, marketing is a productive activity because it provides items of useful value when, where, and in the form they are needed. If you transport a tone of cowpeas from Katsina to Lagos, you are performing a marketing service (i.e. location-utility). Also, if you store a bag of maize for a period of time to make it available later in the market when it is scarce –(i.e. time utility), and when you process groundnut to supply groundnut oil or cake, you are performing a market service termed form utility.
It is important to note that these utilities arise from marketing activities and as in the case of production, it also requires resources like land, labour, and capital. Therefore marketing is not costless.
Given the number of functions that are contained under the umbrella of agricultural marketing, it is obvious that many people and institutions would be involved. There are transporters, warehouse owners, processors, and large/small scale buyers and sellers. These are found at various points as the products move from the farm to the final consumer. There are other marketing agents who are not so directly involved but are equally important. These are individuals and institutions that facilitate the activities of the marketing agents; they include bankers, financiers, insurers, advertisers, and the government. The latter is included because it establishes the rules and regulations under which marketing takes place.
As such, marketing agents may be private individuals, co-operatives, marketing boards, or companies, and so on. All these assume various functions within the marketing spectrum, wholesalers, middlemen, commercial agents, retailers processors, and transporters, etc.
One thing is clear, no matter what the circumstances are; marketing functions have to be performed by someone; therefore, there is the need to have an efficient and well integrated marketing system that rewards both the producers and marketing agents. The system must be capable of providing cheap and safe goods to the consumer.
Various marketing problems have often been associated with the operations or performance of the different marketing agents. Transporters for example, are being accused of hiking transportation costs thereby increasing the cost of the products. Warehouse owners have also been accused of hoarding.
Middlemen have been accused of cheating both the producer and the consumer. Before validating these charges however, it is important to take into account the costs they incur in performing their various functions and how far they have succeeded in meeting consumer demands. As such, the most important thing is to consider alternative arrangements that can reduce costs without compromising consumer satisfaction and conveniences.
Several attempts have been made to establish bodies which were believed to be capable of helping both the producers and consumers to escape from the unsavoury (unwholesome) activities of some of the marketing agents e.g. middlemen. In Nigeria, it took the form of the creation of various marketing boards, producer marketing co-operative societies, and encouraging individual producers to become their own marketing agents.
Most marketing boards in developing countries have concentrated their attention on export crops. In Nigeria, they are involved with food crops as well, e.g. Nigerian Grains Board. In general, marketing boards are given monopoly powers to procure, assemble, grade, pack, and transport a particular crop or set of crops for sale abroad or for local distribution. They are meant to give producers a guaranteed minimum price which serves as incentives for production increases. In Nigeria, this expectation did not materialize. In the colonial era, they generated huge trading profits which were not re-invested into agriculture. They failed to stabilize prices and offered farmers prices lower than the open market – this is one of the  reasons why they were scrapped recently.
The use of Co-operative Societies as marketing agents was made to counter-balance the activities of the other marketing agents who were believed rightly or wrongly to be exploiting the producers. The records of such co-operatives are also not satisfactory. Their operations have been hampered among other things by poor management, ignorance of commercial producers, and lack of proper leadership.
Producers as marketing agents:- producers can act as their own marketing agents and carry out all the functions that middlemen and other agents perform as well as receiving the rewards that the agents received. However, except for a very few large scale producers, most of them are not skilled enough and do not have the facilities to provide satisfactory marketing functions.  
Market outlets
Producers and other marketing agents usually sell agricultural products through marketing outlets. Some of these outlets with their characteristics and functions are outlined below:
1.      Local Markets:-involved in retailing, wholesaling, assembling, and packaging. They conduct direct buying and selling in open or built-up areas in a town, city or village designated as  a market.
2.      Supermarkets:- mainly in urban areas; involved in retailing and packaging.
3.      Processors:- these are industrial concerns involved in the processing of agricultural produce and selling of products and a range of by-products. Examples are Feed millers, Rice millers, Oil mills, Textile firms, and other agroallied industries.
4.       Public and private Institution:- using agricultural products for direct consumption, or as raw materials. Examples are schools, hospitals, companies, hotels, etc.
5.      World Market:- mainly for export crops consumed directly or as raw materials; to earn foreign exchange.
In this chapter, you have learnt that:
1.      Marketing is an integral part of the production process which involves activities such as transportation, grading, processing and the act of buying and selling of agricultural commodities from the point of production to the point of consumption.
2.      Marketing is a productive activity which provides useful services and adds value to agricultural commodities.
3.      There are various agents involved in the marketing process as commodities move from one point to the other.
4.      These agents might be private individuals, companies, marketing boards, or co-operatives, who perform various functions.
5.      Various problems arise as a result of the nature and performance of the marketing agents, leading to either scarcity or exhorbitant costs of goods and services.
6.      Attempts have been made to supplement the services of some of these agents by involving marketing boards, co-operatives, and producers, but this has not been very successful.
7.      There are also various market outlets for different agricultural commodities produced in Nigeria.

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