1.1 Background Information
American Marketing Association (2004) gave a definition of marketing which views marketing as “an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.” Kotler & Armstrong (1991) defined marketing as a process by which individuals and groups obtained what they needed and wanted by creating and exchanging products and values with others. In a related study, Arene (1998) observed agricultural marketing as involving all those legal, physical and economic services that make it possible for products from producers to get to consumers in the form desired by consumers, at the place desired by the consumers, and at the price agreeable to producers and consumers for effecting a change of ownership/possession. From these definitions, therefore, cocoyam marketing involves the creation of utilities of form, place, time and possession. Creation of these utilities bring to the fore performance of all business activities involved in the flow of cocoyam products and services from the point of initial agricultural production until they are in the hands of consumers (Kohls & Uhl, 2001). It can be reasoned from the foregoing, that cocoyam marketing is an integral part of cocoyam production process which comprises all those business services (transportation, grading and standardization, processing, packaging, financing, risk bearing) that take place from the initial point of production (farm or farm gate) to the ultimate or final consumers. For these to be actualized, stake-holders in the agricultural industry take decisions that are critical in the marketing process.
Olukosi and Isitor (1990) held that within the marketing system prices, allocation of resources, income distribution and capital formation are determined. Therefore, the structure and performance of the marketing system may have some significant effects on the total production of a given commodity, on consumer prices, on adoption of improved technology in production and marketing methods and in fact, upon the growth and development of the entire economy. An efficient and functioning cocoyam marketing system is a pre-condition in avoidance of middlemen exploitation of farmers, encouragement of investment in cocoyam production as an aspect of agricultural diversification and improving food security (FAO, 2005). Dixie (1989) highlighted the potential contribution of agricultural and food marketing towards attempts to improve rural income in developing countries. In an earlier study, Kriesberg (1974) reported that in less developed countries the customers spent in excess of 50 percent of the households’ income on basic food stuff, much of which was inadequate in quality and nutritional content. In contrast, Americans spent approximately 12 percent of their total disposable income on food. In Western Europe, the figure ranged from 15 to 19 percent of disposable income. Nigeria’s agriculture, in economic terms, was the major revenue earner long before the advent of oil rigs, pipe lines and refineries which led to the neglect of agricultural activities. The neglect of agricultural activities, however, is much more pronounced in marketing than in production. According to Osuji (1980), this situation appeared to be aggravated in Nigeria by policy makers who had not considered marketing and distribution of food crops (cocoyam inclusive) as serious bottle- necks to the economic development of the nation. Cocoyam marketing, like some agricultural marketing may not be efficient. Explaining this, Banwo (1982) observed that the bulkiness of cocoyam and its high level of perishability made application of uniform standard for efficient marketing difficult.