Economic of Dried Okra Marketing in Ebonyi State

Economic of Dried Okra Marketing in Ebonyi State

Vegetables are important protective food for the maintenance of health and prevention of disease. They contain valuable food ingredients, which can be successfully utilized to build up and repair the body (Bakhru, 2003; Edet and Etim, 2007). Vegetables are valuable in maintaining alkaline reserve in the body. They are valued mainly for their high vitamin and mineral content (Barkhru, 2003).

Vegetables production has become very popular in many countries of the world due to its importance in the diet of the people. Okra is the most important fruit vegetables crop and a source of calorie (4.55Kca/kg) for human consumption. Chriso and Onah (2005); Katung and Kashina (2005) documented that Okra is consumed throughout Nigeria. It ranks first before other vegetable crops (Babatunde, 2004; Dantata and machunga, 2007).

Okra as vegetable crops belong to the genus Abelmoschus, family malvaceae and has two main specie; Abelmoschus esculentus (L) moench and Abelmoschus cailllei (Siemonsma, 1982).
It is important vegetable especially in West Africa, India, Brazil and the United States (Kemble, et al., 1995; Echo, 2000; Alimi 2004). Okra production constitutes about 4.6 percent of the total staple food production in Nigeria in the year 1970 – 2003 (Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN, 2004). It is commonly grown as vegetable crops in tropics. Okra production and cultivation has been widely practices because of its important to the economic development and can be found in almost every market in Africa.

Varieties vary by plant height, size of fruit, colour, early or late maturity etc, though it can be categorized as white velvet, green velvet, long pod, lady finger, dwarf green pods (Udoh et al., 2005). It contains 88% of water, 2.2% of protein, 10% of carbohydrate, 0.2% fat and vitamin A, B, C. According to CBN (1996), the average growth rate of vegetable crop including Okra produced in Nigeria between 1989 and 1993 was 14.0% compared to 6.4% of cassava, 18% for palm oil and 3.8% for maize.

The economic importance of okra cannot be over emphasized. Okra contains carbohydrate, protein and vitamin C in large quantities (Adeboye and Oputa, 1996). The essential and non essential amino acids that okra contains are comparable to that of soybean. As a result it plays a vital role in human diet, it can be consumed boiled, fried or cooked for the young immature fruits. In Nigeria, Okra is usually boiled in water resulting in slimy soups and sauces, which are relished. The leaves, bud and flowers are also edible. The fruit also serve as soup thickeners (Schippers, 2000). Okra leaves are considered good cattle feed, but this is seldom compatible with primary use of the plant. Okra mucilage is suitable for medicinal and industrial applications. It has medically food application as a plasma replacement or blood volume expander. Industrially, okra mucilage is usually used in glaring certain papers and also useful in confectionary among other uses (Markose and Peter, 1990).

Okra production worldwide is estimated at six millions tones per year in West African, it is estimated at 500,000 to 600,000 tones per year (Burkil, 1997). The total area under cultivation has increased over the years with India as the world largest producer followed by Nigeria and Sudan (Varmudy, 2011). In Nigeria, okra is grown basically in all parts of the federation both as rain fed and irrigated crops because of the highlighted values. There are two distinct seasons for okra production, the peak and the lean seasons. During the lean (dry) season, okra fruit are produce in low quantities, scarce and expensive to get. In the peak (rainy) season, it produced in large quantities much more than what the local populace can consume.
Bamire and Oke (2003) reported that yield of okra was higher during the rainy season, but the reverse is the case as revenue tends to be higher during dry season condition. Okra seed could be dried. The dried seed is a nutritious material that can be used to prepare vegetables curds or roasted and ground to be used as substitute (Farinde et al., 2001). Dried okra has a deeper, richer flavor than the regular fresh okra. Dried okra is simply okra that is roughly chopped and sun-dried. During the height of its season, rather than letting surplus fresh okra waste, it is dried and used up later. Names of dried okra in different part of Nigeria, Yoruba: orunla or èekù or epemu, Ebonyi: Ukpo Okwuru, Hausa: Busheshen Kubewa, Middle belt/North: Busheshen Kubewa, Benue (Tiv): Gyande or abodi (the powered/ground form), 1gbo, oro Jagada. Dried okra provides numerous health benefits. Known as a high-antioxidant food, dried okra may support improvement in cardiovascular and coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, digestive diseases, end even some cancers. It is also abundant in several vitamins and minerals, including thiamin, vitamin B6, Folic acid, riboflavin/vitamin B2, zinc and dietary fibre.

Dried okra provides ample calcium and magnesium, helping prevent both calcium deficiency and magnesium deficiency. In addition to healthy bones, calcium is needed to regulate heart rhythms, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also helps with muscle function and nerve-signaling functions. The soluble fiber with dried okra helps naturally reduce cholesterol, and therefore decreases the chance of cardiovascular disease. Dried okra is also used to improve eyesight. Its pods are fantastic source of vitamin A and beta-carotene, which are both important nourishment for sustaining excellent eyesight (along with healthy skin). Additionally, this nourishment may help inhibit eye associated illness. The nutrition benefits are plentiful that it’s been called “perfect villagers vegetable”, with its robust nature, dietary fiber and distinct seed protein balance of both lysine and tryptophan amino acids (unlike the proteins of cereals and pulses) it provides to diet (National Automatic Policy (NAP), 2006).

Dried okra helps stabilized blood sugar by regulating the rate which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract. The dried seed contains blood glucose normalization quantities and lipid profiles that may help naturally treat diabetes. It also contains insoluble fibre, which helps keep the intestinal tract healthy by decreasing the risk of some forms of cancer, especially colorectal cancer for those who suffer from the symptoms of lactose intolerance or are vegans or vegetarians, dried okra can help provide enough calcium to make us the lack of diary (Axe, 2015).

Marketing of dried okra especially between November and March is complex due to its perishable and seasonal nature as well as its bulkiness. Dried okra marketing is a very vital component of fruit vegetable industry (Hosmani, 2007). The marketing of dried okra is gradually developing as many people develop interest to engage in the enterprise as market intermediaries thereby, assisting in the process of distribution. Proper marketing of dried okra is necessary to arrest wastage being experienced during the rainy season period (Farinde et al., 2007).

During dry season, dried okra marketing is beset with challenges and constitutes a bottleneck to its fresh flow in the market due to poor flow or movement of market information amongst the marketers (Adebisi et al., 2011). It therefore, hinders the traders from making better decisions pertaining to the viability of seasonal storage of okra vegetable. Damages occur and are relatively higher when the vegetable is bought due to lack of market information (Agbugba, 2012). In other words, efficient market information will provide accurate market data when analyzed. It will also give positive benefits to farmers, marketing intermediaries and policy makers (Andrew, 1997). Market integration during the dry season period will be measured so as to confirm the movement of price and market information within and between markets. The measurement as well as the pricing of dried okra vegetable in the market poses a constraint due to lack of a standard or uniform measure used in its sale. Enete (1999) noted that marketing system performs vital functions, one of which is the allocation of resources through the pricing system. Price discrepancies and differences among dried okra marketers are very negligible.

Problem Statement
A lot of studies have been carried out on okra in Nigeria. For instance, Okoh and Egbon (2005) reported from the study on integrating the Nigerian’s rural and urban foodstuff markets that there are too many intermediaries and high cost of transportation, as well as sources of validity of price data. An important observation is that while markets have characteristics of perfect competition, the price correlation results show that they are not integrated.

Dittoh (1994) studied the economies of okra production and marketing in Nigeria, in which it was observed that there is poor flow of information in the channel of marketing and that there is need to develop the marketing process in the enterprise. Consequently, Adebisi – Adelani et al., (2011) observed that marketing of vegetable is complex and challenging because of their special characteristics which include: perishability, seasonality, high economic value and standardization requirement. The effect of poor infrastructure, technology and manpower development gives rise to a lot of distributional problem.

Transportation to rural areas can pose a problem, especially where most production activities of vegetable takes place. Okra is most vegetables in fresh form contains high percentage of water. They are living and hence carry out their physiological function of respiration thereby absorbing and releasing gases and other materials from and to their environment. These activities lead to their deterioration in transit and storage, which is more rapid under conditions of high temperature and humidity. As a result, heavy losses are encountered in this crop. The exact estimate of these losses between harvested and consumption of okra cannot be quantified due to absent of date for instance, the supply figure for post –harvest loss estimate except on limited. Controlled experimental basis. Nonetheless, Thomson and Agbugba (1013) citing Oyeniran noted that losses as high as 50% occurred in fruits and vegetables between rural production and town consumption in the tropics.

These losses, it is noted, occurred during transportation storage and marketing (Daramola 1998; Okhuoya 1995) several factors are responsible for these damages and losses in the fresh produce. One of these factors is vibration resulting from the transport vehicles as they traverse undulation and irregularities on roads (Jones et al., 1991). Another factor is attributes to the use of unsuitable packaging containers. To curtail or minimize these damages require detail studies to identify the specific parameters involved.

Thompson and Agbugba (2013)maintain that until the locations of handling losses in marketing system are identified, opportunities to reduce them would be limited, However, despite these studies, non have been able to capture the economics of marketing dried okra in Ivo Local Area Ebonyi State. Hence, this study on the economics of dry okra marketing in Ivo Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State. In order to provide solution to the problem, the following questions were asked;
– What are the socio-economic characteristic of the marketers of dried okra in the area?
– What are the categories of dried okra marketers in Ivo Local Government Area?
– What factors influence the marketing of dried okra in the area?
– What are the costs and returns of dried okra marketing in the area?
– What are the elasticities of dried okra marketing in the area?
– What are the constraints to dried okra marketing in the area?

Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of the study is to analyze the economics of dried okra marketing in Ivo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. Specifically, the objectives are to;
i. describe the socio-economic characteristics of the marketers of dried okra;
ii. categorize the marketers of dried okra in the area;
iii. analyse the costs returns of marketing dried okra in the area;
iv. determine the elasticities of dried okra marketing in the area;
v. determine the factors influencing dried okra marketing in the area;
vi. analyse the constraints to dried okra marketing in the area.

H0: There is no significant difference between costs and returns of dried okra marketing in the study area.

Justification for the Study
There have been concerted efforts to increase okra production but not much commensurate effort has been made to improve the marketing of dried okra. The economics of dried okra marketing has the potential of exploring significantly improve and efficient strategies, process and procedure for marketing of dried okra. The understanding of marketing transaction which involves the movement of okra from the primary efficient marketing. This employs the force of demand and supply to determine price equipment. The demand supply force is subject to various factors that result in price variation, hence; the need for empirical evidence on dried okra marketing in the study area. The study is expected to provide empirical data on the performance of dried okra marketing in the area. This will be useful in planning among government agencies, decision making among marketers and the development of relevant policy statements by government agencies that will stimulate okra production and marketing in the area.

It is expected that the survey will identify factors that constitutes inefficiency and huge cost in the course of distribution and marketing of dried okra and make recommendations for improving effective marketing in the area. This will be useful to the marketers especially in planning for efficient marketers especially in planning for efficient marketing, while on the part of government; in it will help them to addressing the impending factors identified.

This will ensure that small-scale producers in their efforts to access high value markets in the agribusiness value chain. The study is also expected to highlight sources and areas that constitute losses in okra production and proffer ways of eliminating these wastages encountered after production. This will also enhance the quantity of dried okra marketing and improve the farmer’s livelihood through better returns from their investment. For the academic, the study will add to knowledge and serve as reference materials for future researcher who may be interested in similar topic.

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