1.1 Background of the Study
The potential contribution of agricultural marketing towards improved rural incomes in developing countries can not be over-emphasized. Agricultural marketing assumes greater importance in the Nigeria economy because excess production from the farm must be disposed off in order to earn some income with which farmers can purchase goods and services not produced by them (Adekanye, 1988). Olayemi (1982) observed that food marketing was a very important but rather neglected aspect of agricultural development. More emphasis is usually placed by the government on policies that increase food production with little or no consideration on how to distribute the food produced efficiently and in a manner that will enhance productivity. The Nigerian government in recent years has provided incentives to the rural farmers which have tremendously increased the grain production output per hectare in the rural areas. Grain production in Nigeria rose in recent years as farmers expanded planted areas and beneficial rainfall patterns improved yields. For instance, a study by Sanni, Onah, and Njiforti (2007) revealed that the output of grains like rice, maize, sorghum, and soybeans in Nigeria had been on the increase. This means that hunger in Nigeria is not entirely the problem of production. Rather, it has to do with the accessibility vis-a-vis affordability components of the concept of food security. Similarly, Ladele and Ayoola (1997), in their study on food marketing and its role in food security in Nigeria, concluded that an efficient food marketing system would reduce post-harvest losses, ensure adequate returns to farmers’ investment and stimulate expansion in food production thereby enhancing the level of food security in Nigeria.
A good and efficient marketing system accelerates the pace of economic development by encouraging specializations which leads to an increase in output. More so, a good and well-coordinated national food marketing system can affect food production and a household’s food security in two ways. One, it can stimulate increased commercial activities that could generate more funds for plowing back investments in both agricultural and agro-allied industrial sectors. The resultant increased agricultural production will lead to increased food production and increased food output. Secondly, it can lead to employment generation for both food distributors and rural farmers. The involvement of rural people in food marketing could uplift the rural populace’s standard of living and increase their personal income thereby enhancing the prospect of food security at the household, local and national levels.
Furthermore, FAO (1997) stated that if available food could be evenly distributed (through efficient national and international markets), each person would be assured of 2,700 calories a day, which is the recommended daily calorie intake. However, since available food is not evenly distributed (due to marketing inefficiencies and other problems), there are shortages of food in some regions but excess in some other regions. Therefore, the issue of how much food gets to the households, which is fundamental in household’s food security is a function of food production level, food marketing efficiency, and the households’ income level (Ladele and Ayoola, 1997).