PERFORMANCE OF WATERMELON MARKETING IN ENUGU STATE, NIGERIA
The study analyzed the performance of watermelon marketing in Enugu state, Nigeria. Watermelon has long been regarded as a minor crop in Nigeria and thus, has attracted little marketing research attention, in comparison to other major food and cash crops. The specific objectives were to: describe the socio-economic characteristics of watermelon marketers (wholesalers and retailers); describe the marketing channels of watermelon; examine the structure and conducts of watermelon market; determine the costs and returns of watermelon marketing; determine the marketing margin and market efficiency of market participants; determine the factors influencing the net marketing returns of the marketers and identify constraints to watermelon marketing. Multistage sampling technique was employed in selecting eight watermelon markets based on the volume of watermelon traded in the markets. Primary data were collected from 160 respondents comprising 96 retailers and 64 wholesalers with the aid of well structured questionnaire. Data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Gini coefficient, net marketing income, percentage marketing margin, marketing efficiency index and multiple regression model. Results showed that watermelon marketing was dominated by the married (76.25%), literates (97.5%) and females (78.13%) with the mean age and marketing experience of 47 and seven years respectively. Four marketing channels of watermelon were identified. Though watermelon market was characterized by many buyers and sellers with little or no restrictions to entry and exit, the high values of Gini coefficient for wholesalers (0.658) and retailers (0.729) indicated high concentration of watermelon in the hands of few marketers and high income inequalities in the distribution of sales income amongst them. Majority of wholesalers (98.4%) obtained their products in heaps of hundred directly from the producers, while majority of the retailers (92.2%) bought their products per fruit or ball of watermelon directly from the wholesalers. Fixing of prices after deducting the amount spent on purchases and other costs (98.13%) and settling for a price after haggling with buyers (80.63%) were more preferred pricing methods used by the watermelon marketers. The result of net marketing income prper month in kilogram showed that the enterprise was viable; watermelon wholesalers on the average received ₦1,668,292.13 while the retailers received ₦28,701.87. The marketing margins of the marketers were positive, the mean percentage marketing margins for wholesalers and retailers were 45.49% and 31.5% respectively. Though watermelon marketing was profitable, further analysis showed that it was highly inefficient. The marketing efficiency of wholesaler and retailers were 44.83% and 27.97% respectively. The determinants of wholesaler’s net marketing income were product price (0.581) and transportation cost (-2.609), while product price (1.501), educational level (-0.584), storage cost (-0.131), packaging cost (-0.077) and market information (0.057) significantly influenced retailer’s net marketing income. High perishability of watermelon (spoilage), cost of watermelon, high transportation cost, lack of credit facilities, price fluctuation and lack of preservation facilities were identified as the major constraints militating against the efficient marketing of watermelon. It is recommended that government should provide loans and modern storage facilities to enhance the capital base of the marketers and also to reduce losses due to product deterioration in storage.