ANALYSIS OF COCOYAM (Xanthosoma sagittifolium and Colocasia esculenta) MARKETING IN RIVERS STATE, NIGERIA
The study examined cocoyam marketing in Rivers State, Nigeria. The specific objectives were to describe the systems of cocoyam marketing in the area; identify the market structure and conduct for cocoyam; determine marketing margin along with the profit efficiencies of cocoyam middlemen; determine the influence of socio-economic attributes of cocoyam marketers on their profit efficiencies; assess the effects of marketing costs and other factors on price of cocoyam at the wholesale and retail levels; determine the influence of cocoyam marketers’ socio-economic attributes on their marketing margins; and identify the problems faced by cocoyam marketers in the area. Data were obtained from a sample of 210 traders. The study employed market concentration indices (concentration ratio (CR), Herfindahi index and Gini coefficients), marketing margin, and descriptive and inferential statistics for the analysis of data. The OLS multiple regression analysis model, maximum likelihood estimation model and Chow test were the inferential statistics used in the study. The results showed that processing of cocoyam in the area did not go beyond cleaning of corms (100%). The market structure indicated a more equal distribution of market share. The more dominant units of measure were heaps (33%) and small bowls (29%). Fixing of prices after deducting the amounts spent on purchases and other costs (60%) and settling for a price after haggling with the buyers (40%) were more preferred pricing methods. Average margins of 30 percent were recorded at wholesale and retail levels while those who combined wholesaling and retailing got margins of 27 percent. The average profit efficiency armong all marketers was 32 percent. Educational status and household size were the major socio-economic drivers of profit inefficiency and were significant at p<0.05 and p<0.01 respectively. For the wholesalers, tests of hypotheses showed that stock prices, transportation, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) exerted significant influences while for the retailers, transportation, fees and commissions respectively influenced pricing decisions at p<0.01 and p< 0.05 respectively. The Chow test results gave an F-statistic of 3.0865 which was statistically significant at p<0.01. Lack of standardized units and measures (40%), high storage losses (42.9%) and inadequate market infrastructure (41%) were some of the marketing problems. The study recommended among others that, government should prioritize research into processing and storage technologies in order to have the benefits of value-addition in cocoyam production in Rivers State in particular and Nigeria in general. Additionally, there should be promotion of adult education through literacy and entrepreneurship development training programmes by the government to enhance the educational status of the cocoyam marketers in order for them to contribute to a healthy economy.