ECONOMICS OF WATERMELON (Citurllus lunatus) MARKETING IN ANAMBRA STATE OF NIGERIA
The study examined the economics of watermelon marketing in Anambra State, Nigeria. Specifically, it described the marketing channels and volume of trade among the channels, market structure, profitability and economic efficiency of watermelon marketing. It also ascertained inter and intra market price spread; influence of respondents socio-economic characteristics on net marketing returns and constraints to watermelon marketing. Multistage sampling procedure which involved purposive and random sampling methods was used to select 240 marketers (120 wholesalers and 120 retailers). Data were collected from primary source. Primary data were collected using structured questionnaire. Collected data were analyzed by means of descriptive statistics, enterprise budgeting, Sherpherd-Futrell and multiple regression techniques. From the result, four channels of watermelon distribution were identified while volume of trade that passed through the channels was highest (56%) at channel iv (Producer/Supplier wholesaler, retailer, consumer) which is the most important (major) channel in the marketing of watermelon. Gini coefficient indices of 0.6556 and 0.6278 for wholesalers and retailers reflected high level of income inequalities, high concentration of sales among few marketers and evidence of moderate level of imperfection in watermelon markets. Profitability indicators such as net marketing income, return on investment, net return on investment and coefficient of marketing efficiency of N 85, 809, 01.6 and N 24, 407,78.7; 1.11 and 1.37; 0.11 and 0.37; 89.46 and 72.57 for wholesalers and retailers respectively, proved the business profitable at both levels. The implication of the net return on investment figures is that the wholesalers and retailers respectively return 11 kobo and 37 kobo for every 1 Naira invested in the business. Findings also indicated marketing efficiency levels of 89.46% for wholesalers and 72.57% for retailers implying that the retailers were more efficient in the marketing of watermelon than the wholesalers. Socio-economic factors of education and marketing cost significantly determined net marketing income realized by watermelon marketers at wholesale level. The significant determinants of net marketing income realized by watermelon marketers at retail level were age, household size and marketing cost. Problems militating against watermelon marketing arranged in descending order of seriousness were high cost of produce, high cost of transportation, loading and off-loading damages, difficulty in identifying unripe and over ripe fruits, poor storage facilities and perishability of fruits. For the retailers, the constraints were high cost of produce, perishability of fruits, difficulty in identifying unripe and over-ripe fruits, poor storage facilities and loading and off-loading damages. Banks and other financial institutions should make credit facilities available and affordable for the marketers at low interest rates. Government should reconstruct dilapidated roads, construct new railways, expand water transport facilities, improve and modernize existing market infrastructural facilities. Watermelon marketers should form cooperative societies to enable them access government grants and loans to alleviate their financial challenges, improve their volume of trade and earn more income.