The Nigerian agricultural trade policy ensures food security, promotes domestic
trade, enhances access to agricultural raw materials and encourages participation
in preferential trade arrangement as well as promotes the use of modern technology
and promotion of quality agricultural exports. However, a large number of marketing
functions in Nigeria are poor thus, limiting the responsiveness of marketing
processes. Given the role marketing and distribution play in the overall farm
enterprise in terms of income generation and sustainability of enterpriser,
poor marketing activities pose a sever limitation to the growth of the agricultural
sector and a huge constraint in food and income chains of rural Nigerians. Olukosi
et al. (2005) and Demiryurek et al. (2008)
identified the need for agricultural marketing information as a major tool for
farmers to make economic decisions that would benefit them and thus, enhance
their market access. To them, marketing has a connection to immediate income
and is dependent on useful information and knowledge which enables the farmers
make decisions on what to produce where and when to purchase inputs, availability
of transportation and how to dispose of produce. One of the major constraints
that farmers in Benue state have is poor access to market information. Umeh
(2000) explained that poor information flow (market intelligence) among
others is a major contributor to the increasing merchandising risks of farmers.
According to Obregon and Rivera (2001), poor communication
processes increase the economic and socio-cultural deterioration of developing
nations as a result of imbalance in information flow worldwide. Obinne
(1992) stated that effective communication starts with the target population
or at the level of the producers. However, despite the various studies carried
out in the marketing of agricultural produce, no study has been conducted on
agricultural marketing information system among farmers particularly those in
community-based organisation in Benue state.
The objectives of the study:
||Determine the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers
in community-based organisation
||Describe the kinds of agricultural marketing information farmers
seek and share
||Determine the sources of marketing information available to
members of community-based organisation in the area
||Describe the factors that limit farmers access to agricultural
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Benue state is the study area for this research and the major occupation of the people is agriculture. Crops like yam, water yam, cassava, sweet potato, rice, millet, guinea-corn, maize, groundnut, soyabean, sesame, fruits and vegetable are grown. However, other jobs like civil service, teaching, trading and craftsmanship are available. Members of farmers community-based constituted the population for this study. The population was drawn from the three agricultural zones of Benue state Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (BENARDA). Double-stage stratified and purpose simple random sampling technique was used to select the respondents. From each of the three agricultural zones, a farmers community-based organisation was chosen 1x3 = 3 community-based organisations. From each of the three organisations, a proportionate number of respondents 57+57+59 = 173 were interviewed. On the whole, the sample size of the study was 173 respondents.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Table 1 shows that 64% of the respondents were in the age
range of 31-50 years. This population is middle-aged, active and constitute
the workforce of the economy. These categories are more probable to adopt new
innovations when introduced. The general assumption is that people in the middle
age bracket innovation. These community-based organisations were appropriately
directed at farmers who should exhibit capacity and keen interest to acquire
new skill for economic enhancement and improved livelihood. Majority (89%) of
the respondents were married with large households size of 6-10 members
t cater for. The large household size could be reasons of labour needs on the
farm and marketing of agricultural produce. About 75% of the respondents received
6-11 years of formal education. This implies that the farmers were fairly literate
and appreciate the importance of knowledge in agricultural business. The study
revealed that the majority (87%) of the respondents earned an annual income
of less or equal to 54,000.00
only. This is an indication that farming and marketing are still at the subsistence
Table 2 shows that farmers, joined their various community-based
organisations to meet both social and business needs. About 45% joined for multiple
purposes of contributing to community development, socializing (belongingness)
and business. However, 49% realized their expectation of contributing to community
||Distribution of the socio-economic characteristics of respondents
Farmers organize themselves in various community-based organizations to meet
their various needs. The Maslows need Hierarchy theory suggests that human
beings have needs which are basic and these needs are at different levels of
importance depending on the individuals current level of satisfaction.
According to Hicks and Gullet (1976), these needs appear
in the following order of hierarchy: survival, safety, belongings, ego status
Table 3 shows agricultural marketing information seeking
and sharing among farmers. Many 35% of the respondents sought information on
storage and sales of agricultural produce. This implies that attention may be
shifting from production to other aspects of agricultural marketing and emphasis
on storage and sales of produce. It could be explained that every producer wants
to sell the fruits of his labour at a fair price and be paid quickly to enable
him buy seeds and fertilizer for the next season. The shift from production
to storage and sales could be further explained to decline interest in cultivation
as a result of low prices at harvest periods.
||Distribution of farmers according to the realization of their
expectations from community-based organization
|Multiple responses recorded
||Percentage distribution of respondents according to agricultural
marketing information they seek and share
|Multiple responses recorded
Table 4 shows that farmers have multiple sources of agricultural
marketing information and they patronize the sources that are most useful for
their marketing purposes. About 38% of the respondents found friends, family
and neighbours as most useful sources of agricultural marketing information.
About 21% found friends, neighbours and extension agents as the second most
important source of marketing information. It could be explained, therefore
that informal sources of market information are prevalent in the area.
||Percentage distribution of respondents according to their
sources of agricultural marketing information (
|Multiple responses recorded
||Factors that limit farmers access to agricultural marketing
It is believed that the problems of rural farmers may no longer be the availability
of credit but rather that of accessibility. Accessibility to subsidized cash
and in-kind loans such as low interest rates, fertilizers, improved seeds, processing
and marketing of agricultural produce.
The role of the state in providing widespread information and awareness on
how to access these packages and the benefits to farmers and market participants
is very critical (Magnus and Omanukwue, 2009). This
can be done through the integrating and dissemination of information related
to agricultural activities through the use of state radio stations, organization
of group training sessions as well as the use of community-based organizations.
There should be increased linkages and feedback process between the rural farmers and the state; greater access to information about rural finance schemes and their potential benefits to rural business can boast the take up of loans (cash or in-kind).
Table 5 shows that baranda (middlemen), sickness and insufficient local knowledge constitute a major hindrance to farmers access to useful agricultural marketing information.
In the case of baranda, it could be inferred that marketing intermediaries take advantage of the poor bargaining power and poor economic condition of the farmers thus cheating them in different ways.
This further emphasizes the undermining capability of baranda to farmers market access which is strengthened by the inability of the farmers to participate collectively as a body in the market place. Furthermore, the challenge facing the farmer could be compounded by sickness which acts to isolate the farmer and thus, expose him to more intense exploitation by the baranda.
Farm decisions require adequate information on a number of things including where when and what price to purchase farm inputs, availability of transportation and how to dispose of the agricultural produce until it gets to the consumer. Farming is business and a source of livelihood especially for the rural farmer who has limited access to alternative options for self-sustenance. Farmers capacity to control their environment for maximum income from produce is the result of resources of the disposal including knowledge i.e., marketing information and skills. Farmers organisations were not indicated as important source of agricultural marketing information to members, rather they were proactive in their community development delivery and communal access to training and input for agricultural production. However, members access the market individually as they expressed negative attitude to joint trading.
The following recommendations are suggested:
||The capacity of Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) be strengthened
in sourcing agricultural marketing information for their members. This will
help farmers develop trust and confidence in their local organisations for
organisation and/or the government should set up an institution that would
with message content that has local acceptance and farmers resource
centre at strategic locations where farmers can access accurate agricultural