Dried Okra Processing
Ngbede, Ibekwe, Okpara, Onyegbule and Adejumo (2014) identified three methods of processing okra, viz: slicing, slicing and crushing and slicing and grating methods. They observed that both manual and semi-modern processing methods are used for fresh and dried okra processing.
The tools used for processing fresh okra are knife, grater, and mortar and pestle/grinding stone respectively. The absence of facilities for mechanized processing calls for design and production of intermediate technologies for processing dried okra. Fresh okra are preserve by putting them in a basket for not more than 1 week while sliced okra are sun dried for three days and stored in basket, bags or clay pots for future use.
Osunde and Musa-Makama (2007) noted that sun drying remains the major way of preserving surplus fresh okra during seasonal production to meet the demand all year round. In most developing countries, the method of sun drying is characterized by exposure to direct sun radiation, slow drying in open air, which provides a good environment for destruction of heat sensible nutrients and photo hydration mechanism of solar radiation (Komolafe and Osunde 2005). However, mineral contents of vegetable are stable to dehydration.
While sun drying is being increasingly adapted in vegetable preservation due to the high cost of other artificial drying methods, conservation of nutrient is important in view of the prevailing micro nutrient deficiency problem. If the daily recommended allowance of these nutrients (DRA) is to be met all year round, then the extent of available micro-nutrients in the sun-dried vegetable must be assessed.
Marketing is the sum total of activities involved in a market. Marketing includes selling, advertising and packaging (John, 1999). Marketing plays a vital role in the production process because a well organized and efficient market structure ensures profitable return to seller, at a reasonable price to consumers. Production of okra being a perishable crop is affected by its marketing (Kemble et al., 1995).
Marketing of Okra during the dry season is complex due to its perishable and seasonal nature as well as its bulkiness (Hosmani, 2007). Proper marketing is necessary to arrest wastage being experienced during the dry season period (Farinde, Owolarafe and Ogungbemi, 2007). Okra marketing during the rainy season when all the crops mature at about the same time, creates glut in the market due to the fact that many of the farmers and sellers do not have storage facilities, thereby leading to very low returns of the crop per hectare. Moreso, there is high economic return per hectare of okra because the number of dry season marketers engaged in its marketing is reduced. In order words, the marketing efficiency becomes an important determinant factor to the performance of the industry.
Channel of Dried Okra Distribution and Marketing
Marketing channel is a set of individuals, participants, players or organisations which facilitate the transfer of title of dried okra as they pass from the producer or farmer to the final consumer. They are often employed for analysing the performance of a market. The analysis of okra marketing channels was intended to provide a systematic knowledge of how the product flows from its place of production to the final consumers. Marketing channel is an important part of its cost, and its location to the market may shorten the path of distribution from producers to consumers and makes the marketing process simple and efficient (Egbuna, 2009).
Ngbede et al. (2014) identified channels of okra marketing in Nigeria to include farm gate, local market, and sales at the farm gate and local market. Its marketing is gradually developing as many people develop interest to engage in the enterprise as market intermediaries. Egbuna (2009) identified eight marketing channels for vegetables. Some of the channels went out of the marketing region due to the farming environment of the producer which was outside their market environment. In the same vein, the marketing channels were rightfully identified though some channels were negligibly compared to others. Channel comparison was made based on the volume of the vegetable product that passed through each channel. Each of the percentages show the amount of vegetable marketed as they flow through each of the channels from the producers to consumers is similar.
Factors Influencing Marketing of Agricultural Commodities
OECD (2008) identified that the recent negative yield shocks in key agricultural commodity producing regions that have contributed to price increases should be viewed as temporary. Barring any underlying climate change or water constraints that could lead to permanent reductions in yield, normal higher output can be expected in the very short term.
Macroeconomic conditions that favour economic growth, increases in purchasing power, and stronger demand for agricultural commodities are expected to continue, at least for many non-OECD economies (OECD, 2008). This is a permanent factor in future price determination, but not a new one: strong GDP growth in developing countries has been a feature of commodity markets for many years. Thus, this factor should slow the decline in real prices in the future, but not lift average prices to permanently higher levels.
The oil price, and energy prices more generally, is a critically important contributing factor to the increase in production costs for agricultural commodities and food and ultimately in the market prices for these goods. Price projections discussed here reflect the widely held belief that the oil price increases are permanent, lifting future prices to higher average levels.
Feedstock demand for biofuel production is expected to increase further, albeit at a slower rate than in the past three years, and under current policy settings appears to represent a permanent factor in price formation. Unlike strong income growth in developing countries, this is a new source of demand which is seen as one of the factors lifting prices to higher average levels in the future.
Stocks of rice, wheat, coarse grains and vegetable oil have fallen to low levels relative to use, reducing the buffer against shocks in supply and demand. Stocks are not expected to be fully replenished over the coming ten years, implying that tight markets may be a permanent factor in the period to 2017. This should not lead to permanently higher prices, but provides the background for more price responsiveness in the future.
The surge of investment in futures commodity markets from non-traditional sources may have short term price effects. But relative to the ten year outlook period these may prove temporary, given adjustment in markets and participants’ behaviour: funds can move rapidly in and out of commodity markets as profit opportunities dictate. Given their size, this may well be a new and permanent element in future price responsiveness (OECD, 2008).
A more general point concerning price responsiveness relates to the thinness of markets, or the share of imports and exports relative to the size of global consumption or production of agricultural commodities. When markets are thinner and prices in domestic markets do not follow those in international trade because of insulating policies or market imperfections, world market prices must change more to accommodate an external shock to traded quantities, all else equal. Such market characteristics are expected to remain a permanent feature in the responsiveness of prices.
Finally, the nature and composition of demand are factors that may increase the future variability in world prices (OECD, 2008). First, industrial demand for grains and oilseeds and in particular policy-driven demand for biofuels production is generally considered less responsive to prices than traditional food and feed demand. Second, food demand becomes less responsive to price changes as incomes rise and the commodity share in the food bill falls. Such changes are permanent factors that may lead to greater responsiveness in future world prices.
Constraints to Okra Marketing
Ehirim, Osuji, Obasi et al., (2014) identified lack of storage facilities (96.3%) and high cost of labour (81.5%) as the major constraint to the production and marketing okra. They identified other constraints to include, high cost of farm inputs, lack of access to credit, pest attack, lack of access to markets, lack of extension services and poor weather conditions. This implies that production and marketing of okra will continue to dwindle if these factors remained unaddressed.
Ngbede et al. (2014) assessed the relevant variables that constraints to okra production, processing and marketing in Ivo LGA of Ebonyi State. The result indicated that fluctuation of prices, bad roads, far distance of market, lack of information about available markets and prices, lack of storage facilities, small-scale of production, problem of middlemen, lack of standard measure and high cost of production constrained okra production, processing and marketing in the area. They also observed that in most cases, multiple factors constraining okra production and marketing. Similarly, Emokaro and Erhabor (2006) observed that farmers are faced with more than one constraint in the production process. Effort must be made to address these constraints, especially the fluctuation in prices and bad roads, considering the positive effect these would have on increased okra marketing in the study area.