Marketing Of Produce – Agricultural Products
Agricultural products are called produces. They have some eatures which make marketing them much different from marketing of produce in agriculture as well as other products. The marketing of produces needs to have a good knowledge of these features before he can design effective plans and programmes for marketing them. The most important of these features are discussed here under.
- Agricultural products are primary products – This means that they have generally not undergone any processing which can help to enhance their basic features and value. This explains why they are grouped with natural resources and referred to as commodities.
- The production of agricultural products is subject to the whims and caprices of the weather or nature – This makes production level not entirely dependent on the decision of farmers. While a bad weather can greatly dash the hope of farmers by reducing production level, a clement weather can greatly help to raise their production level. Drought, desertification, floods and pests are some of the forces of nature that have reduced farm output in Nigeria in recent times.
- Agricultural products are mostly seasonal in productions – This is as a result of their being dependent on the forces of weather. But the demand and consumption or usage of the products are spread throughout the year. This underscores the need for god storage facilities. It also explains the reasons for the price fluctuations in the prices of agricultural products between the different seasons.
- Most agricultural products are highly perishable – Some even lose their freshness and begin to spoil within hours after they are harvested. This necessities finding buyers quickly or processing them in order to get them preserved. Much of the farm produces in Nigeria is lost because of lack of storage facilities and the inability of farmers to process them when sales are delayed, here the farmers will be required to proceed to the marketing of produce.
- It is difficult to brand agricultural products – Before branding can be done they would have to be processed into something else. Branding enables a producer to differentiate his product from other producers, advertise it and have control over it’s prices.
- There is usually much geographical distance between the producers and consumers or buyers of agriculture products – While the producers are usually found in the rural areas, the customers or buyers of all the agricultural products which happens as a result of the marketing of produce are found in the urban areas. This necessitates transporting the products over long distances. The bad nature of our roads and the consequent high costs of transportation make the price of agricultural products to be much higher in urban areas than in the rural areas where they are produced.
The features of agricultural products discussed above makes their marketing much more difficult than that of manufacturing or processed products. Notwithstanding, this with the careful planning and implementation of marketing programmes, marketing can be achieved and it can obtain good patronage for their produces. This involves taking the right decisions with respect to the specified produces to market, their prices, promotion and distribution.
Before going into production or business, the farmer or agricultural product seller should try to find out the product gaps in his community or among the people he hopes to sell his products to. There exists a product gap when a product needed for solving a problem is either non-existent or it is in short supply. He should choose from among the products based on the extent of the market (prospective buyers), the expected expenditure on the products, the ease of production and availability of production resources and the ease with which he can handle them. Generally speaking, consumers or buyers prefer produces to be fresh, clean and of slightly above the average size at maturity.
The offering of varieties or options of the product in order to enhance the choice of buyers often gives a competitive advantage to the seller of agricultural products. The same thing goes for the packages or container of products that gets sold through marketing of produce. Many farmers and sellers of agricultural products do not give attention to the packaging of their products. Yet, buyers are much interested in the packaging of the products they buy, this is because of the protection, transportation convenience, and the beauty which packaging gives to products. The processing and storage of seasonal and perishable produces can greatly help producers to obtain better prices for them.
Buyers are usually aware of the general price level for different types of agricultural products in different places. Transportation is usually the main reason for differences in price, since the products are basically the same. Instead of trying to make more gain through higher price bargains, the producers and sellers of produces should try to cut down operating costs. By transporting in larger quantities and selling directly to consumers or industrial users, cost can be reduced and more gained. In order to have a better control over price, the producers should try to add the values of the product he produces. By carefully storing and preserving the products and making it available during off production season when prices generally rise, he would be able to sell at a higher price.
This is what many producers and sellers of melon, palm oil, ogbono, bean, rice, pepper, groundnut and onions often do in order to obtain favourable prices for their products. The processing of products in order to reduce their prices for them, most especially when the products are not going to be consumed or used immediately after production or harvesting. Fruits, such as oranges, lemon, pineapples, tomatoes, can be juiced and bottled or canned. Root crops and grains such as yam, cassava, and corn can be dried and processed into flour. When so done, the end products are usually more valued ones than the primary ones.
The means of processing primary products have not been well development and efficiently used in Nigeria. It is only in the area of palm produces. In additional to these, or alternatively, producers or sellers of agricultural products can transport their goods to distant places where there is much scarcity in order to sell them at a higher prices. Many local rice dealers normally take their goods to Lagos to see even after their exercise of marketing of produce. But too much focus on loans over the years has led to the prevalence of lower prices there than what is obtained where the products are produced. By forming themselves into a co-operative societies, seller farmers that cannot go it alone can still achieve better prices for their products through these means.