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World Journal of Sociology and Anthropology WJSA

Vol. 3(1), pp. 045-049, July, 2019. © www.premierpublishers.org, ISSN: 0927-9601

Research Article

The Role of Cooperatives in Marketing of Agricultural Produce


in Ushongo Local Government Area, Benue State, Nigeria
*1Naswem, A.A., 2Soomiyol, V.M., 3Aande, A
1,2,3Department of Agricultural Extension and Communication, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State,
Nigeria

This study was designed to determine the role of cooperatives in the marketing of agricultural
produce in a rural community. A structured interview schedule was used to collect data from a
random sample of 115 respondents drawn from five of the eleven Council Wards in the Local
Government Area. It was found that respondents’ socio-economic characteristics had no
significant influence on farmers’ participation in cooperatives. The study showed further that
cooperatives were able to regulate only a small proportion of the volume of produce farmers took
to the market. However, three quarters (74.8%) of respondents believed that cooperatives
determined prices of produce. Some of the constraints facing cooperatives identified included
the large number of middlemen (75.5), inadequate storage (67.0%) and low literacy of members
(67.8). It is concluded that cooperatives would better impact farmers if identified constraints are
addressed by both governmental and non-governmental stakeholders.

Keywords: Agricultural cooperatives, Market regulation, Price-taking, Participation, Roles of cooperatives

INTRODUCTION

Access to market for agricultural produce is a critical are economic enterprises that are founded by and belong
consideration for every farmer especially the resource- entirely to the members. These enterprises are created in
poor farmers. As much as 40 percent of agricultural order to render the best possible services at the lowest
produce is wasted in Nigeria due to poor access to storage possible cost to their members. Cooperatives stand over
facilities and markets. As most farmers do not have the two legs in order to be solid and sustained. Cooperative
wherewithal to store and transport their products to the action leads to the creation of people’s organizations that
market, they are compelled to rely on exploitative bring together individuals with common problems and
middlemen for the marketing of their agricultural produce. aspirations who as individuals cannot meet certain goals
In the end, their losses are multiplied: whereas part of their effectively, (Barham, 2006).
harvests is lost due to poor storage, what is left is also lost
through unfavorable prices imposed by middlemen Cooperative societies are very popular in Nigeria. Onuoha
(Saddique, 2015; Oguoma, Nkwocha and Ibeawuchi, (2002) in his study of cooperative history in Nigeria stated
2010). In the final analysis, the farmer’s income, nutritional that there are traditional and modern cooperative
and food security and general welfare is negatively societies. The modern cooperative societies started in the
impacted. Thus, being a farmer in Nigeria is associated country as a result of the Nigerian cooperative society law
with being poor, and for most farmers the only exit from enacted in 1935 following the report submitted by C. F.
poverty lies in belonging to a cooperative. Strickland in 1934 to the then British colonial
administration on the possibility of introducing
A cooperative is a group of people with common interests, cooperatives into Nigeria.
organized to promote the social welfare of its members. It
offers various social and economic solutions to most rural
problems. The synergized effect of group activities and *Corresponding Author: Adolph A. Naswem,
influence affords benefits that may not be individually Department of Agricultural Extension and Communication,
feasible for most of the rural poor (Mure et al. 2012). In a Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State,
similar vein, Akinwumi (1989) asserts that Cooperatives Nigeria. E-mail: angolnaswem@gmail.com

The Role of Cooperatives in Marketing of Agricultural Produce in Ushongo Local Government Area, Benue State, Nigeria
Naswem et al. 046

According to Nweza (1997), the Nigerian government ii. determine the extent to which cooperatives regulate the
introduced cooperatives in the wake of the world volume of produce farmers take to market,
depression of 1930 to solve its marketing and credit iii. determine the role of Cooperative Societies in
problems. At the time, cocoa farmers were the victims of marketing Agricultural products,
exploitation of foreign middlemen that cheated in the area iv. find out the challenges of Cooperative Societies in
of price and quality of their products. The then Nigerian marketing of agricultural produce in the study area,
government sent Mr. G.F. Strictland, an Ex-Army Major to
India to undertake a three-month course in cooperatives
which he did and submitted his report in 1934 on the need METHODOLOGY
to introduce cooperatives. The government accepted the
reports and appointed Major E.F.G. Hang as Registrar and The study was conducted in Ushongo Local Government
sent him to India for a similar course. Area of Benue State which is located between Latitude
7000 and 7020 North of the equator and Longitude with
Cooperative societies in Nigeria like their counterparts all headquarters in Lessel. The local government lies in the
over the world are formed to meet people’s mutual needs. Eastern part of Benue State and is bounded on the North
Cooperatives are considered useful mechanisms to by Gboko and Buruku Local Governments Areas, in the
manage risks for members in agriculture. Through South by Vandeikya Local Government, in the East by
cooperatives, farmers could pool their limited resources Kwande and in the West by Konshisha Local Government
together to improve agricultural output and this will Areas respectively. It has a Land mass of 1,228sq km and
enhance socio-economic activities in the rural areas a population of one hundred and eighty – eight thousand,
(Ebonyi and Jimoh, 2002). three hundred and forty-one (188,341) people (National
Population Commission (NPC)(2006).
As price-takers, however, farmers are faced with the
challenges of lack of ready markets to sell their produce. Agriculture is the mainstay of the people’s economy.
In view of the proven utility of social capital in building the Agricultural products produced in commercial quantities in
capacity of vulnerable individuals to accomplish hitherto the area include fruits, grains and tubers. Citrus fruits and
unattainable objectives, the study was designed to mangoes are the principal products of Ushongo people.
determine the role of cooperatives in the marketing of Indeed, Ushongo Local Government is the singular largest
agricultural produce in Ushongo Local Government Area producer of citrus fruits in the whole of Benue State. There
of Benue State. The specific objectives of this study are to: are many cooperatives in the study area which include
i. determine the relationship between the socio-economic group farming, farmers multipurpose, thrift and credit,
characteristics of farmers and their participation in produce-marketing and consumer cooperatives.
cooperative activities,

Fig. 1: Map of Benue State showing Ushongo Local Government Area

The Role of Cooperatives in Marketing of Agricultural Produce in Ushongo Local Government Area, Benue State, Nigeria
World J Sociol. Anthropol. 047

The population for this study consisted small-scale farmers activities including cooperatives. Ordinarily it is to be
in Ushongo Local Government Area. Of the 11 Council expected that the more educated an individual, the greater
Wards in the study area, 5 council wards were selected. the propensity to join a cooperative (Awotide, Awoyemi
These included Lessel Township, Atirkyese, Mbakuha, and Fashogbon, 2015). Table 1 also shows no significant
Mbagba and Mbaanyam. Two communities were selected relationship between income of the respondents and
from each of these Council Wards and then 115 participation in cooperative activities. This shows that the
respondents were proportionately drawn from the primary motivation for farmers to form and participate in
communities. Data were collected via a structured agricultural cooperatives is to increase their income.
questionnaire interview schedule designed to elicit Therefore, gross income is anticipated to have a negative
information from respondents in line with the objectives of relationship with member’s participation in cooperatives.
the study. Data collected were analyzed using descriptive
and inferential statistics. Results in Table 1 shows that there is no significant
relationship between farm size of the respondents and
participation in cooperative activities.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
So, it could be concluded that there was no relationship
Relationship between Socioeconomic Characteristics between socio-economic factors of education, marital
of Respondents and Participation in Cooperative status, occupation, income and farm size of the
Activities respondents and their participation in cooperative activities
in terms of belonging to cooperatives, number of
Table 1 reveals that there was no significant relationship cooperatives involved, years of experience in cooperatives
between any of the socio-economic variables and and frequency of attendance to cooperative. It would
participation in cooperatives. On education, this result appear that cooperation satisfied more than just the pursuit
contrasts with the findings of Bzugu et al. (2005) that of economic gains, but also a cultural need to associate in
education level influenced participation in economic a community spirit.
Table 1: Influence of Socio-economic Characteristics on Participation in Cooperatives
education Marital status occupation Income Farm size
Level of Participation
X2
Belonging to Cooperative 0.599 0.662 0.051 0.901 0.325
Number of Cooperatives involved 0.321 0.908 0.747 0.148 0.077
Years of Cooperative Experience 0.618 0.109 0.718 0.371 0.314
Frequency of Attendance at Cooperative meetings 0.918 0.182 0.583 0.180 0.277

Extent to which Cooperatives Regulate Volume of Table 2: Distribution of Respondents according to extent
Produce to which cooperative regulate volume of produce farmers
take to the market.
Table 2 shows that the quantity of produce sold by farmers Minimum Maximum Mean Std.
ranges between 0kg – 8,000 kg with the mean of (309.59) (kg) (kg) Deviation
and standard deviation of (988.795). The quantity of Quantity of 0 8,000 309.57 988.795
produce sold by individuals ranged between 100kg – produce
18,000kg with the mean (2588.70) and standard deviation Regulated by
of 3025.325. This result shows that cooperatives regulate Cooperative
20% of the total produce farmers take to the market. Quantity of 100 18,000 2,588.70 3,025.325
Yihune (2008) reported similar results that all farmers offer produce
grains to the market in order to satisfy their financial Regulated by
requirements but they are different in the amount they individuals
offered to the market within a specified time element and EXTENT (%) .000000 92.307692 8.43684120.100797
to whom they sell their produce. He found that the majority Valid N
(47 %) of members in cooperative annual sales reached (listwise)
up to 500kg, and only 24 percent had their annual sales
above 1000 kg. This implies that cooperatives regulate a Role of Cooperatives in market in produce
relatively small proportion of the total volume of produce
farmer take to the market. Birchall (2005) postulated that Table 3 shows the ways in which cooperative societies are
most farmers believe cooperatives no longer keep to their perceived to affect marketing of agricultural commodities.
values and principles and hence exploit farmers in A majority of the farmers believed that cooperatives
marketing their agricultural products. determined prices of agricultural produce (74.8%); this role
is viewed to be instrumental because it gives farmers
confidence in cooperative activities in regulating the prices

The Role of Cooperatives in Marketing of Agricultural Produce in Ushongo Local Government Area, Benue State, Nigeria
Naswem et al. 048
of agricultural produce. Similarly, provision of ready market Challenges faced by Cooperatives in marketing of
(72%) and provision of strong bargaining power (71.3%) Agricultural produce
was also a major role played by cooperatives. This agrees The result in Table 4 shows that the major challenge of
with the findings of Mande et al. (2014) who reported that cooperatives in the study area was the large number of
cooperatives undertake the system of pooling the produce middlemen (75.5%) whose activities are exploitative to
of the members to enhance the bargaining power through farmers (Folarin, 2013; Rozdan, 2015).Other challenges
unity of action. faced by cooperatives include lack of proper management
Furthermore, cooperatives also play a key role to lessen by leaders (73%).This suggests that most of the leaders in
the burden of transportation (68.7%); this is because due cooperatives are corrupt and hence farmers see no need
to the unavailability of good roads, farmers rely on of marketing their agricultural produce via cooperatives.
cooperatives to market their goods. Also, education of This confirms what has been reported that in Africa, farmer
members about production and marketing (68.7%) was cooperatives have often failed because of problems in
another role played by cooperatives. Hermida (2008) holding management accountable to the members (i.e.,
reported that cooperatives provide functional education to moral hazard), leading to inappropriate political activities
members in the areas of production, processing and or financial irregularities in management (Akwabi-
marketing of agricultural produce. Furthermore, the result Ameyaw, 1997; Omotosho, 2007). Similarly, most of the
(67.8%) shows that cooperatives play a key role in creating respondents in the study area agreed that unavailability of
employment, and this finding agrees with Bhuyan (2007) loans (71.3%) was also a challenge. This corresponds with
who asserts that cooperatives are specially seen as a the study conducted in 2004 in cooperative produce
significant tool for the creation of jobs and for mobilization marketing societies in Oyo, Ogun and Ondo states of
of resources for income generation. Similarly, the Nigeria by Aweto, which reveals that 74% of cooperative
respondents also acknowledged that cooperatives members join cooperative societies with the hope of
improve the quality of product (56.5%). This implies that obtaining financial assistance and out of these, only 14%
cooperatives monitor the quality of produce brought in benefitted from financial assistance of the society when
order to meet desired market standards. About (55.7%) really in need of funds. Low level of education of members
agree that cooperatives help members to purchase farm (67.8%) was also a challenge which implies that
supplies. This infers that cooperatives buy goods in bulk at cooperatives are poorly funded. This agrees with what
a lower cost and resell it to members at cheaper prices. Essien (2000) reported that because a large number of
Similarly, provision of better marketing services (53%), farmers in rural areas are illiterate, they are economically
and provision of more accurate grading standard (52.2%) handicapped. This result is similar to the findings of
is also the roles of cooperatives. However, there are low Ogunleye et al. (2015) and Adefila, J. and Madaki, J.
percentages performed in relation to lower marketing cost (2014) who found that management and leadership
(45.2%), control of wastage of agricultural products problem (73.0%), limited membership/insufficient fund
(45.1%) and provision of storage facilities (40.9%). (69.0%) and low level of education of members (62.0%)
were the major problems affecting cooperatives.
Table 3: Respondents’ perception of the role of Furthermore, inadequacy of storage facilities (67.0%) and
cooperatives in marketing of agricultural produce lack of commitment (64.3%) is among the challenges
Roles Frequency Percentage affecting cooperatives. Also, the problem of small and
(%) scattered holdings (63.5%), bad notion concerning
High bargaining power 82 71.3 cooperatives (53.0%), dishonesty among farmers (52.2%),
Lower marketing cost 52 45.2 lack of transport facilities (52.2%) were also seen as major
Provision of ready market 83 72.2 challenges. The low percentages of lack of information
Improvement on the quality of 65 56.6 (49.6), poor handling, packaging and processing facilities
products (47%) and government interference (43.5%) implies that
Determination of prices of 86 74.8 they are minor challenges affecting cooperatives in the
agricultural produce study area.
Provide more accurate 60 52.2
grading standard CONCLUSION
Provide better marketing 61 53.0
services The study demonstrated the potentials of cooperatives to
Provision of storage facilities 47 40.9 move farmers from mere price-takers to a position of
Lessen burden of 79 68.7 significant control over the market. However, several
transportation constraints have limited the impact of cooperatives on the
Educate members about 79 68.7 ability of cooperatives to facilitate competitive prices for
production and marketing farmers. Cooperatives will fare better if these constraints
Purchase of farm supplies 64 55.7 are addressed. For instance, the provision of transport and
Control wastage 51 44.4 storage infrastructure would reduce their operational
Create employment 78 67.8 costs. Investments in literacy programs and other capacity
* Multiple Responses building efforts would also improve the quality of
leadership and enhance service delivery.

The Role of Cooperatives in Marketing of Agricultural Produce in Ushongo Local Government Area, Benue State, Nigeria
World J Sociol. Anthropol. 049

Table 4: Challenges of cooperatives in marketing of Farmers in Askira/Uba Local Government Area of


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Accepted 10 June 2019

Citation: Naswem AA, Soomiyol VM, Aande A (2019).


The Role of Cooperatives in Marketing of Agricultural
Produce in Ushongo Local Government Area, Benue
State, Nigeria. World Journal of Sociology and
Anthropology, 3(1): 045-050.

Copyright: © 2019: Naswem et al. This is an open-access


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The Role of Cooperatives in Marketing of Agricultural Produce in Ushongo Local Government Area, Benue State, Nigeria