Wednesday 26 August 2020

Lupine Publishers | Onion (Allium cepa) Production in Urban and Peri-Urban Areas: Financial Performance and Importance of This Activity for Market Gardeners in Southern Benin

    Lupine Publishers | Current Investigations in Agriculture and Current Research


Food safety has always been and continues to be a major concern for all countries of the world. This concern is all the more perennial in the developing countries like Benin with a low economic level and still rudimentary and extensive agriculture. To reduce a little bit of food insufficiency, is developed urban and peri-urban agriculture based mainly on market gardening. This study focused particularly on the production of onion in southern Benin. It aims to analyze its performance, to understand the importance of this activity but also to see what are the obstacles faced by these producers. Three municipalities were investigated: Grand-Popo, Cotonou and Sèmè-Kpodji. A total of 60 farmers were surveyed at 20 per municipality. Quantitative and qualitative tools were combined for the analysis of data collected through individual and group interviews. A joint analysis approach was used to achieve specific objectives. It consists to combine speech analysis, participant observation with statistical tools such as the frequency distribution, the regression model and calculation of performance indicators. It follows from all of these analyzes that onion production is profitable from a financial point of view. This performance is enhanced by factors such as age, experience and membership of a producer group. Similarly, the farmers claimed for majority that onion occupies a special place in their market garden production. This production improves their socio-economic and food situations. However, the constraints that undermine the more onion production and thus constitute important producer concerns are financial, institutional, organizational, property constraints and those directly related to production. Farmers therefore, expect a little more effort from agricultural policies to improve the development of this sector.

Keywords: Onion, Performance, Importance, Barriers, Southern Benin


The agricultural sector provides essentially food security and livelihood in Benin, with 70% of the population earning their income from agriculture [1]. This sector is even more important for developing countries like Benin, where it is one of the pillars of the economy [2]. Nowadays, it is increasingly recognized that in the developing world, nearly three billion people live on less than US $2 per day [3]. Majority of this population are smallholder farmers producing staple food crops with little prospects of generating higher incomes. Hence, diversification into high-value horticulture is essential for increasing farm incomes, alleviating poverty and improving livelihoods [4,5]. Globally, food production is still a challenge [6,7], especially with the projected rise in world population to over 9 billion by 2050 and increased urbanization in cities [8]. There is therefore still some justification for increasing agricultural production in the coming years [9,10]. Urban vegetable production is an intensive agricultural strategy through which urban dwellers secure income and improve their livelihoods [11].Urban and periurban agriculture (UPA) has been defined differently by Mougeot [12,13], Moustier [14], and Van Veenhuizen [15], but they all lay stress on agriculture’s relationship with the city as a resource and destination for outputs [16].

Onion (Allium cepa L.) is one of the most important commercial spice crops of the world belongs to Amaryllidaceae family [17]. Moreover, essential oil and sulfur compounds have been found in onion which is responsible for unique odour, flavour, and taste [18]. Based on the interested situation in health food development, the properties of onion and its extract as a functional agent have been demonstrated in many previously [19]. Onion (Allium cepa L.) has been valued as food and medicinal plant since ancient times [20]. It is widely cultivated secondly to tomato, and is a vegetable bulb crop known to most cultures and consumed worldwide [21]. The major onion producing countries of the world are China, India, USA, Turkey, Japan, Spain, Brazil, Poland and Egypt [22]. In Benin West African country, this culture has become very important especially in urban areas where the market gardeners devote more land to the production of onion. It is in order to make an inventory and understand onion production in southern Benin that this study was conducted. Specifically, the study aims to analyze firstly the profitability of onion production, secondly to appreciate the importance of onion production in southern Benin and ending by identifying the difficulties facing the farmers.

Materials and Methods

Study zone

The municipalities of Grand-Popo, Sèmè-Kpodji and Cotonou are located in south of Benin and cover respectively 289km², 250km² to 79km². The town of Grand Popo is located in the southwestern department of Mono. It is limited to the north by the Athiémé, Comé and Houéyogbé communes, south by the Atlantic sea, to the southwest by the communes of Ouidah and Kpomassè and west by the Republic of Togo. Located between the parallel 6° 22 ‘and 6° 28’ north latitude and the meridian 2° 28 ‘and 2° 43’ east longitude, the commune of Sèmè-Kpodji is in the Department of Ouémé, the Southeast of the Republic of Benin on the Atlantic coast. It is limited to the north by the city of Porto Novo and Aguégué, south by the Atlantic sea, to the east by the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to the west by the city of Cotonou. The town of Cotonou in turn is located on the barrier beach that stretches between Nokoué Lake and the Atlantic sea, consistitued of alluvial sands of about five meters maximum height. It represents the only municipality in the Littoral department is bounded to the north by the municipality of Sô-Ava and Nokoué Lake, south by the Atlantic sea, to the east by the town of Seme-Kpodji and West by that of Abomey-Calavi. These towns are from a set that has a sub-equatorial climate except Sèmè-Kpodji bathed in a Guinean Sudanese climate. We find in these areas, the sandy type of soil, leached and hydromorphic. The municipalities of Grand-Popo, Sèmè-Kpodji and Cotonou have various socio-cultural group included the mina, the Goun, the Xwla and Toffins.


To conduct this research, three (03) municipalities were selected in southern Benin. These towns were chosen partly because of their significant contribution to the onion production of the department to which they belong, and secondly because of the large number of onion producers they contain. We have Grandpopo, Sèmè-Kpodji and Cotonou. Therefore, (60) producers made object of investigation at the rate of twenty (20) producers per commune. This sample consists only of onion producers. Note that the sample was achieved in a simple random in order to give all producers the same probability of being selected. Table 1 show the composition of the sample per commune: The collected data is related not only to the characteristics of the producers, but also to expenditure and revenue of producers. The information has been collected on the basis of a questionnaire and a pre-prepared interview guide.

Table 1: Composition of the sample per commune.


Source: Results of investigation, 2018.

Data analysis

In this study, the performance of onion production in southern Benin was assessed using several indicators of financial performance. To this end, it is inspired by the work of Dédéwanou [23]. Several profitability indicators were therefore calculated, namely: Gross Product Value (PBV), Added Value (VA), the Gross Operating Income (RBE) and Net Operating Income (RNE). From Adégbola [24] and Bockel [25] studies, these indicators can be calculated as follows:

a) Product Gross Value (PBV): Denoting by Q the quantity of onion obtained and PU the selling price of the kilogram, the Gross Product Value (PBV) is given by: PBV = Q*PU.

b) The PBV is for this purpose the revenue made by the producer.

c) Added Value (VA): It corresponds to the difference between the Raw Product Noise Value and the value of intermediate inputs (CI). Intermediate consumption represents expenses related to the acquisition of insecticides, herbicides, and baskets. Its formula is given by: VA=PBV-CI.

d) The added value is obtained by deducting from the PBV, all expenses directly related to the production. Note that the added value is the wealth that the producer creates. This wealth contributes to the Gross Domestic Product of the country.

e) Gross Operating Income (RBE): It is given by the formula: RBE=VA-(Labor compensation + financial expenses + taxes). To estimate the RBE, it was considered only the hired labor.

f) Net Operating Income (RNE) This indicator represents the balance of RBE less the value of depreciation. Its formula is given by: RNE=RBE-Amortization.

g) The RNE expresses the gain (or loss) Economic agent once acquitted all current operating expenses. RNE, expresses the economic gain (or loss) given the investments made previously. Therefore RNE is obtained by deducting from the PBV all expenses related to production.

h) This study is also proposed to analyze the determinants of the profitability of onion production. For this purpose this study was based on the work of Tovignan [26] and Allagbe [27]. A multiple linear regression model has been developed on the basis of sixty (60) onion producers. Thus, the multiple linear regression formula can be written as follow:

y =α01xi+ εi

Where: y is the dependent variable, xi the explanatory variables, α is a constant called “intercept” and Ɛi the error term of the model.

The evaluation of the importance of onion production consists to determine changes in socio-economic and food orders induced by this production in the three investigated municipalities. To do this, in a collection of producer’s speeches about perceived improvements since they produce onion was done. The analysis fundamentally was based on the discourse of these producers and through participant observation. More simply, the analysis consists to explain the effects induced by the production of onion in a social context through producer’s speeches and participant observation. These explanations were supported by the comments of some significant producers. The frequency distribution and the farmer’s speeches allowed identifying the barriers of onion production in the study areas.

Presentation of the variables included in the model

Two types of variables are included in the regression model turned. We have on the one hand, the dependent variable and the other explanatory variables. The dependent variable is the Net Operating Income of producers. It was therefore question of identified and analyzed the factors influencing the income of onion producers. So many variables called ‘’ explanatory ‘’ were introduced in the regression model. The explanatory variables included in the model are: age of the producer (Age), household size (Mena), the number of agricultural household assets (ActifM), the level of literacy (Alpha), educational level (Inst), seniority (Anc), membership of a group (APPG), the cultivated area (Sup), the mode of land access (ACCT) and fixed costs (CF).

There are a lot of reasons for the incorporation of these variables in the regression model.

a) Age: Age is a variable expressed in years. Several studies identify age as a parameter determining the profitability of agricultural production. Indeed, the more the producer is aged, the more he gains experience enabling him to improve the financial performance of its operations. This variable has been introduced into the model to see if it has an influence on the net income of onion producers in South Benin. The age would have a positive effect on the financial performance of onion production.

b) Mena: This variable refers to the number of persons who form the household of the producer. Household size is a potential source of labor and allows producers to increase production. It therefore positively influences the net income of the onion producer.

c) ActfM: This variable represents the number of agricultural workers of producer household. The number of assets would have a positive effect on the profitability of production because the market garden production, especially onions requires a lot of labor.

d) Alpha and Inst: Education can acquire a base regarding the management of a exploitation. So, educated onion producers will have a higher income than their uneducated counterparts. The effect of literacy and education on the net income would be positive.

e) Old: This is the number of the producer seniority year. Over the producer has a number of high year of seniority, the more he has strengths and knowledge that will enable him to improve his onion production. It therefore positively influences the net income of the onion producer.

f) APPG: This variable represents the membership or not of the producer to a group. It is a binary variable taking the values 1 if the producer is a member of an onion producer group or 0 if not. This variable could have a positive effect on financial performance of the production, in the sense that the producer’s group members have the support of extension services as well as that of some development programs and projects in order to improve their performance.

h) ACCT: This variable represents the farmer’s access mode to the ground. This variable is set to 0 if the producer has access to land by inheritance; 1 if access rental. The fact that the onion producer owns the piece of land to his work, it could have an influence on his income because the latter will invest the necessary capital. A positive or negative sign of the coefficient for this variable would be expected.

i) CF: Fixed costs represent costs of production. Over were these expenses less producers take advantage of his farm. These variables will therefore have a negative effect on net income of onion producers.

Table 2: Summary of the model variables and the expected signs.


Source: Results of literature searches, 2018.

Table 2 shows a summary of all the variables included in the model with their expected signs. Note that two software’s were used in this section. SPSS has achieved descriptive statistics and STATA software was used to perform econometric regression.

Results and Discussion

A zoom on onion production and consumption

The following Table 3 shows the countries that produce most of onion in the world. China and India are the primary onion growing countries, followed by the USA, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Brazil, the Russian Federation, and the Republic of Korea [21]. Onion productivity is highest in the Republic of Korea (66.16t/ ha), followed by the USA (56.26t/ha), Spain (53.31t/ha), and the Netherlands (51.64t/ha). With world production of 74,250,809 tonnes from an area of 4,364,000 hectare, the average productivity across the world is 19.79t/ha. The international trade in onion exports is 6.77 million tonnes. The Netherlands is the highest onion exporter (1.33 million tonnes) followed by India, China, Egypt, Mexico, USA, Spain, and Argentina. Bangladesh, Malaysia, the Russian Federation, the UK, Japan, and Saudi Arabia are the major onion importing countries in the world [21]. According to Bethesda [28], West Africa represents less than 2% of the world output of onion. However, it represents 10±25% of the vegetables consumption in West Africa: its culture is ancient in the region and extends through several agro-ecological zones, ranging from arid Sahelian countries to humid coastal countries [29]. In Benin particularly, the production of the onion is relatively young (40-50 years) [30].

Table 3: The ten largest producers of onion in the world.


Source: FAO, 201221.

If there is no recent and clear statistics of the volume of domestic onion production, it should be noted that the production has been in galloping development of around 70,000 tonnes against 15,000 just 20 years ago. According to Baco [31] and Affomasse [32], the average area of onion production is 1 ha in Benin representing 57% of total area under vegetable crops. Onion is the market garden predominant crop in Benin since it is grown by more than 80% of vegetable growers. Similarly, the onion is a product consumed by all the urban and rural beninese. Urban consumption is estimated at 3.3kg of onions per year per person. This demand represents a commercial demand for 7000 tonnes per year. The consumption of rural populations against is estimated at 1.1 kg of onions per year per person, a rural consumption of about 14 000 tonnes. Although the production of onion is growing, the country is unable to meet domestic demand of around 45,000 tonnes [33] throughout the year, which explains the need to import the remaining, mainly by Niger, Gaya-Malanville border [34].

Source of supply and sector’s actors

Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Benin are the biggest onion supply sources to West African consumers. Niger is the largest producer and exporter of onion in West Africa and its commercial network allows to supply the major coastal markets of the sub region. In Benin, for against the import of this speculation is more important because domestic production cannot meet the needs of people. However, nationally the most productive zones are Malanville, Karimama and Grand-Popo followed by large cities (Cotonou, Sèmè-Kpodji, Ouidah, Dassa and Glazoué) that also produce a considerable quantity of onion as urban or suburban vegetable. The production of onion, like most agricultural crops in Benin knows two periods: a period of abundance (January to May) characterized by high availability of onions on the market. Currently, importers of other countries (Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Nigeria) are sourcing local onion to neighboring countries. The second period, that of solder (August to December) is characterized by the scarcity of onions and increasing the product price on the market. In Benin, onion varieties are encountered onion Galmi (or white Galmi onion), purple Galmi (or onion Agades) and Dendi onion of Malanville (red onion or local onion). Of these varieties, the white Galmi remains the favorite onion for Beninese consumers. Besides his characteristics that one knows (bigger than the red onion, relatively smooth, easier to maintain, less spicy (less acidic)), it is its organoleptic qualities that are most appreciated (the pleasant flavor that it gives to the sauce and the fact that it does not blacken). Regarding the sale price of onions, it knows a big fluctuation depending on the period as specified above. Thus, the bag of 100kg of acceptable quality onion (red onion Galmi) and the most appreciated (white Galmi onion) respectively cost 14,500 CFA and 19,500 CFA in times of plenty against respectively 50,000 CFA and 75.000 CFA in lean period. Table 4 shows the selling price of 100 kg bag of different onion varieties in the study area.

Table 4: selling price of 100 kg bag of cultivated varieties of onion.


Source: Results of investigation, 2018.

The actors in the Value Chain (VC): a multitude of stakeholders

The onion sector is composed of a large number of actors can be subdivided into four groups. It is the operators of the value chain; supporters of the chain; institutional actors; stakeholders and external facilitators

a) The operators of the value chain are most concerned. They are upstream of the value chain and are for the most part the first owners of the product. They represent producers, sellers or resellers, customers or buyers, processors, intermediaries, wholesalers and retailers.

b) The supporters of the chain are those that are not directly related to the process of production or marketing. They are actors who sell their services to producers, processors and traders. This is usually suppliers of inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides), moneylenders or credit providers, pumps sellers and gasoline retailers, MFIs, intermediaries, carriers, of agricultural laborers, carters to transport the onion over a short distance etc.

c) Institutional actors are the actor’s group that provides institutional support in the context of a continuous improvement and regulation of the sector activities. These include state structures (MAEP, CECPA, SCDA, customary chiefs, customs, police, gendarmerie, research and extension services etc.). The finding done is that these groups of actors do not really invest in the development of the sector.

d) Stakeholders and external facilitators are actors who aim to improve the socio-economic life of rural populations. They provide financial and technical support primarily to producers. These are NGOs, development projects and programs, and specific fund donors.

Downstream of the chain, there is a last group of actors which is relatively large: The consumers. Onion Consumers can be at any level of the chain. He may be the producer and in this case he practices subsistence farming or firm that process onion for example. It is important to note that in this sector, the actors play complementary roles. The value chain would not be good if each group of actors not playing its role effectively. The following Figure 1 shows schematically the various actors in the onion value chain in Southern Benin: In fact, some of the onions harvested by farmers are sold to rural collectors or directly to local markets. Intermediaries and wholesalers, for their part, buy onion for the most part from rural collectors or local markets. The purchased stock is then transported to urban markets (for example the Dantokpa,Malanville and Parakou markets). However, it should be noted that some producers sell their crops directly in these urban markets. The following circuit (Figure 2) shows the onion commercialization process described by respondent’s producers. All actors in the chain are present and the complementary relationship they have in the onion value chain.

Figure 1: Groups of actors in the Onion value chain in Benin.

Source: Results of investigation, 2018.


Figure 2: Process of marketing of onion value chain.

Source: Results of investigation, 2018.


Potential and motivations of onion producers

The onion production in both North and South Benin is favored by some natural assets available in the country. It is:

a) Agro-ecological potential of Benin (soils, climate, topography, vegetation, drainage network).

b) The geographical location of Benin (proximity to other producing countries such as Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and other countries onion importers like Togo).

In addition to the natural potential, certain provisions promote onion production in Benin. We can talk about:

a) Mechanized irrigation through pumps for irrigation, from the shallow groundwater.

b) Interventions of many projects to support the intensification and promotion of fruit and vegetable crops.

c) Applied search to identify ways of improving vegetable production.

d) The producer’s enthusiasm for onion cultivation due to its high profitability.

e) The supply in specific inputs (Improved seeds, products pesticides, fertilizers...) from the 2000s.

f) Existence of market garders communal groups.

g) The existence of an international market and many village markets.

Especially for urban producers surveyed (Cotonou, Seme- Kpodji and Grand Popo) these are the following benefits that motivate these market gardeners to engage in the cultivation of onion.

a) The high financial profitability of onion production

b) More favorable conditions for the intensification of production systems, due to land pressure and pluriactivity that promote the enhancement of complementarities.

c) The geographical proximity to markets (Dantokpa market for example) reduces transportation costs compared to remote rural areas.

d) The reduction of energy and time in getting goods to consumers: transport, storage, especially for fresh produce.

e) The reduction of post-harvest losses due to the proximity of production areas.

f) Better product quality in terms of freshness for perishable products.

Socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of the surveyed producers

In southern Benin, specifically in the municipalities of Grand-Popo, Sèmè-Kpodji, and Cotonou onion production is predominantly male (78.3% of men against 21.7% of women). These producers have an average age of 28 (±08) with a tenure of 06 years (±04). Moreover, in the study area average household has 04 persons (±02) and 03 (±01) agricultural assets. Levels of literacy and education of the surveyed producers are more or less acceptable in public Grand-Popo, Sèmè-Kpodji and Cotonou. Note also that 50% of producers are active members of a group against a second half not belonging to a producer group. Overall, there are 81.7% literate farmers and 91.7% educated farmers. In the study zone, onion producers have an average area under crop of 2785.48 m2. These areas are obtained either legacy (61.7%) or rent (38.3%). To operate their farms, producers face two types of loads in their exploitations. These called ‘’variables’’ and those ‘’fixed’’. These charges are respectively 93 CFA/m2 and 5.76 CFA/m2. Table 5 shows the statistical variables characterizing respondents.

Table 5: Statistical variables characterizing respondents.


Source: Results of investigation, 2018.

Financial Performance of onion production

To assess the financial performance of onion production, analysis of operating farmers account was made. Thus, the results of the analysis reported in Table 4 shows that onion production is profitable in southern Benin as the average Net Operating Income calculated is positive (689 CFA/m2>0). These results are consistent with those of MAHRH [35] and Fanou [36] whose studies finally led to the conclusion that onion production is profitable. Table 6 below shows the operating account of onion producers. Note that the financial performance indicators used were calculated in CFA/m2.

Table 6: Financial performance indicators calculated.


Source: Results of investigation, 2018.

Determinants of onion production profitability

The multiple linear regression model performed to identify the determinants of the onion production profitability is generally significant at the 1% level (p=0.0000<1%). Variables such as age of the producer, the cultivated area, the level of literacy, membership in a group, the experience, and fixed costs are those which influence the onion production profitability in southern Benin. The variables of the model that are not significant are: household size, the number of farm assets, access to land and the level of producer instruction. Age has a positive significant effect on the threshold of 1% on the profitability of onion production. We therefore deduce that more the producer is old, more sometimes he took advantage of its business. The producer thus gains experience with time. Which experience allows him to improve the financial performance of his exploitations? However, these producers are very few open to new technologies that are proposed to improve their income. They therefore remain conservative. This conclusion stems from the fact that seniority has a negative significant effect on the threshold of 1% on the profitability of onion production. It is the same for literacy that has a negative and significant effect on the threshold of 1% on the profitability of onion production in southern Benin. These results are contrary to those obtained by Labiyi [37] which identify education as a determinant of economic efficiency of resource allocation in soybean production in Benin. Membership of the producer group has a positive and significant effect at the 10% threshold on the profitability of onion production.

Thus, onion producers who are members of a group have higher net profits than the others because they will benefit from certain advantages. We can highlight the sharing of information, mutual assistance and the expertise that a producer can take the other being a member of an onion producer group. These results are consistent with those of Tovignan [26] who found that producers who are members of a group have a higher net profit than others who do not belong to any group. Unlike the membership of a producer group, the wheat area has a negative and significant effect on the threshold 5% on the profitability of his exploitations. Thus, over the cultivated area, the less the onion producer benefits from his activities. The producers do not manage to meet the obligations belong to large farms. Note that these results contradict those obtained by Tovignan [26] who deduced that producers who have a large area under cotton production have a higher net profit than those having a small area. It is the same for the fixed charges that have a negative effect and significant at the 5% level on the profitability of the production of onion. Therefore, the more these expenses amounted less the producer benefits from his plantation. Table 7 shows the results of estimation of multiple linear regression model performed.

Table 7: Estimated multiple linear regression models.


*** = Significant at 1%; ** = significant at 5%; * = Significant at 10%

Source: Estimation Results, 2018.

Source: Estimation Results, 2018.

Onion importance for farmers: The onion producers constitute the largest actors group in the in the sector. Therefore, this production contributes to job creation for over 75% of agricultural assets during market gardening seasons in different regions of the study area. At the household level, onion cultivation is an important source of income and contributes to food and income security for producers. The onion is often the biggest source of cash income and helps to meet the needs of families. At Grand-Popo, as in all the investigated cities (Cotonou, Seme-Kpodji), deferred selling garden products, particularly onion is a powerful lever to support the food security of urban populations. As an activity of counter-season, onion belts allow producers not only to self-employed, to ensure household food security but also to receive significant revenue.

98% of surveyed producers recognized that onion production has resulted in many changes in their socio-economic life. In general, improving purchasing power has had a positive impact on food security, education and health situation of farmers. The onion income often also generates new income-generating activities such as petty trading, farming and others. Culturally, onion helps to prepare for marriage or pilgrimage to Mecca. Woman A and Man B two onion producers of Grand Popo and Cotonou asserted: ‘Onion production is very important to us. With this production I am more and more autonomous. I depend less on my husband. I don’t expect him anymore before buying coal or kitchen utensils. I do all my small expenses through this production income and I can even pay my tontine which was very difficult for me when I was not market gardner’ (A).’Onion is very profitable. I produce a lot of vegetables but little counter-season onion i produce, I can invest in my livestock and it is the same money that allow me paying my three children’s scholar fees each year’ (B).

Importance for input suppliers and other service providers

To carry out their activities, onion producers have much contact with a range of actors that are upstream in the value chain. Producers purchase pumps and pipes, gasoline, seeds, plows and small equipment, fertilizers and pesticides. Then, there is all kinds of economic relations between producers and suppliers, including the informal credit provision. The majority of the production costs regarding labor. Indeed, the onion sector creates many jobs, often for the poor. There is a redistribution of income from large producers to small producers, landless people in rural exodus through the agricultural labor. In most cases, producers raise funds to run production without financial institutions credit. Man C a Cotonou seed seller confirms these observations through these words:

‘In general market garden production allows us seed sellers to us to quickly sell our products in the city. Most of the time, people come to take the seeds of garden crops like onion and tomato. Many people feed through production. Carriers, agricultural equipment vendors, laborers ... ‘ (C)

Health and nutritional importance for producers-self consumer

Some market gardeners (6%) produce the onion just for its nutritional and health importance. For these producers, onion is a valuable culture that they not only produce for sale but also and especially for its therapeutic properties, organoleptic qualities and anti-erosive effect. Three onion self-consumers Men D, E and Woman F justify the importance of the Niger’s purple gold in their diet and their health situations.

‘The onion gives the taste and flavor. You can prepare a good sauce without putting a little onion. It is sometimes used to garnish the food or mitigate the effect of spicy chili’ (D)

‘The onion comes in many herbal tea in traditional therapies. When crushed with other products such as garlic, Goussi and others that can heal digestive problems, cancer, liver, rheumatism. It also helps to regulate menstruation cycle of women. My grandfather suffered from high blood pressure but with the adequate consumption of onions, it’s much better for a while ‘ (E)

‘The onion can be used in all forms: raw for salads, for example, cooked for frying or sauce, cut, beads, rapped or crushed. Onion juice can treat skin acne and provides a smooth and beautiful skin, as well as for hair growth and maintenance, colds, coughs, to sexual arousal’ (F). Figure 3 presents the advantages of onion production in southern Benin.

Figure 3: Importance of onion production in southern Benin.

Source: RResults of investigation, 2018.


Obstacles and expectations of onion producers in south benin

Onion production despite the many benefits that it brings to market gardeners, is facing various difficulties. Analysis of the Table 8 shows that the major constraints identified in onion production in southern Benin are institutional organizational, financial, land orders, and those directly related to production. The market gardeners interviewed affirmed that these constraints were also those for which it was essential that one find solutions. Among the most relevant constraints mentioned by farmers are: the lack of specific inputs for vegetable (onion), strong parasite pressure not control pests and vegetation in stock, the still extensive production system and low yields, low technical capacity of producers, difficult access to credit, poor organization of the onion sector in Benin, the lack of organization of market gardeners in general, deforestation and soil impoverishment, difficult harvest evacuation due to the degradation of most of the tracks, the low involvement of technical extension services, low supply of local services for the supply and distribution of specific inputs, lack of arable land, delay and poor distribution of rainfall in time and space and finally shortening the rainfall cycle.

Table 8: Constraints of onion production and relevance of these constraints by producers.


Source: Results of investigation, 2018.

These results are in the same direction as those obtained by Gotoechan-Hodonou [38] in northern Benin, attic of the onion production. Baco [31] also identified similar constraints in their studies in the field of seed production. The context of the difficulties faced by onion farmers in southern Benin is similar to the case of Niger where the constraints identified were the poor quality and availability of inputs and equipment, problems of access to certified seeds, low financial capacity producers, poor access and insufficient agricultural credit, poor mastery of production techniques, a lack of modern storage infrastructure and huge losses in stock, the traditional character of the transformation, the lack of appropriate packaging the variability of the weight of the bag, the existence of different methods of fixing and price volatility, weak infrastructure and road harassment [39], market saturation after the third cycle of production, the lack of regulatory mechanism supply and demand and competition from foreign imports in the sub-region39. However, among the identified constraints, are institutional, organizational and financial coming to the forefront. It is therefore imperative that the public and private agricultural institutions orient their policies in a process of facilitation and development of onion production in Benin. Despite the efforts, the producers of South Benin still face enormous difficulties that significantly hamper production. Producers have issued many approaches that could improve production conditions and therefore their living conditions. The most important approaches proposed by the producers were related to the main constraints mentioned. Man X and Woman Y, two onion producers argued about it, respectively:

‘We know that we are in cities, so with regard to the land is lacking but we did not complain too much. But there are things the government can do to make our job easier. For example, they can create agricultural credit services for onion producers, they can put us in group; can also be formed on the most effective technologies of production. It is necessary that the state helps.’ (X)

‘It is difficult to produce in cities, but we mostly need help. We receive no government support. Nobody supervises us, we cope alone. We would like the state begins to take us for help. The state focuses on cotton or cashew forgetting that gardening provides food security especially those urban populations. I don’t know if they know but especially gardening onion production is more profitable than cotton. I have produced cotton in the North before coming south for work. But finally I gave myself to the production of onion because it gives me more revenue especially against season. I strongly urge agricultural institutions to find us improved varieties of onion seeds, financing for irrigation and the launch of activities, organizing into cooperatives and especially we organize training courses.’ (Y)


Onion production is a very important sector which may be considered not only to ensure food security of urban populations but also to improve the living conditions of the producers. This production proves very financially profitable for producers in southern Benin. In addition to its financial performance, it also impacts on social, health, nutritional and environmental producers living. It allows a large number of producers and a considerable number of actors as service providers to have substantial income. However, it would be interesting for agricultural policies to develop actions to limit constraints of this production in southern Benin.

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Tuesday 25 August 2020

Lupine Publishers | One plus One is More Than Two? Reaping From the Synergy between Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge to Climate Adaptation in Ghana

    Lupine Publishers | Current Investigations in Agriculture and Current Research



The rapid escalation and dangers of global climate change is bourgeoning astronomically and thus places colossal demands on stakeholders to marshal innovative ways and processes for connecting knowledge systems to tackle its negative upshots. These demands in contemporary climate related discourses have led to calls for the integration of indigenous knowledge (IK) and scientific knowledge (SK) sources in climate adaptation efforts. However, studies that advocate and utilize the co-production of IK and SK as the way forward to climate adaptation efforts in Ghana remain scanty. This paper supports by reporting promising outcomes in economies that have embraced the co-production of IK and SK into their adaptation action plans. It is envisaged that this paper will spark stakeholder discussions and subsequently galvanize efforts leading to the integration of both IK and SK into adaptation policies in Ghana. Thus, one plus one can be more than two should Ghana thread on the path of knowledge co-production in climate adaptation initiatives.

Keywords: Global climate change; Indigenous knowledge; Scientific knowledge; Climate adaptation


Copious evidence supports climate change-induced decline in crop and livestock productivity in the global landscape [1,2] , more especially in weather-sensitive agricultural production regions such as sub-Saharan Africa where those most vulnerable to these impacts are the indigenous people whose source of livelihood depends solely on small-scale farming. Presently, the agricultural sector contributes 22% of Ghana’s GDP [3] and employs 42% of the economically active workforce [4]. In 2017, Ghana’s GDP recorded a growth rate of 8.5%, with the agriculture sector expanding from a growth rate of 3.0 percent in 2016 to 8.4 percent in 2017 [5]. Nonetheless, the agricultural sector is extremely imperiled as the EPA of Ghana predicts that the country stance to lose about 81.3 square meters of arable land yearly, and yields of maize and other cereal crops will reduce by 7 percent by 2050. This creates the urgency for best-fit climate adaptation practices to aid adaptation efforts by small-scale farmers, on whom the whole country depends mostly for food supplies. Thus, contemporary adaptation planning necessitates access to the preeminent available knowledge, whatever its source. Unfortunately in Ghana, there exists low levels of awareness and poor understanding of climate change impacts coupled with significant knowledge gaps about climate change processes [6]. These realities have mired effective societal decision making of climate change adaptation and mitigation. There is therefore the need to create such awareness and also integrate indigenous climate change adaptation and mitigation planning with sustainable development and poverty reduction goals [7].

In the light of this, countless developmental projects are known to have been created, funded and accomplished by outside resources and presented into rural communities with the hopes and promises of impacting the lives of small-scale farmers. Assessments indicate that these projects failed to recognize the culture of the people and resulted in low participation and success rates [8,9].As a consequence of these letdowns, there was a growing interest in the incorporation of indigenous knowledge (IK) and traditions to increase project participation rate and provide environmentally sound approaches to development. The main reasons for this paradigm shift towards indigenous knowledge and practices were (i) IK stem from the cultural context of the people concerned, (ii) IK evolves in close contact with the specific environment conditions and, (iii) IK is based on intimate knowledge of the environment in the traditional societies Mathias, 1995. Also, according to Adugna [10] and Woodley [11], IK adds value to climate change studies in the following ways; (i) IK systems create a moral economy, (ii) identifies a person within a cultural context, therefore providing decision-making processes or rules of thumb to be followed based on observed indicators or relationships within events, (iii) indigenous knowledge is progressively demonstrating a semblance with scientific methods as many ideas in indigenous knowledge that were once viewed as primitive and misguided, are now seen as appropriate and sophisticated, and (iv) indigenous knowledge systems provide mechanisms for participatory approaches. Valuable local knowledge of relevance to climate change assessment and adaptation is held by rural societies [12]. Thus, these sources see farmers in the agriculture sector as innovators with a sophisticated body of ‘indigenous knowledge’ comprised of practices gained through experience and transmitted through members of a community [13,14].

Extensive evidence of academic literature that documents how smallholder farmers use knowledge systems to adapt to climatic trends in Africa exist [15-17]. Owusu Ansah [18] in a study that examined indigenous knowledge sources, potency and practices to climate adaptation in the small scale farming sector cited 49 sources to indigenous knowledge in an article for the Journal of Earth Science and Climatic change. Crate [19], referenced 136 sources on climate change and culture in an article for the Annual Review of Anthropology. The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nation University (UNU) [20] cited over 300 references in the 2012 report “Weathering Uncertainty: Traditional Knowledge for Climate Change Assessment and Adaptation”, which offers a synopsis of key issues and areas of research on indigenous knowledge. UNFCCC [21] ascertained the importance of indigenous knowledge conservation as key to the benefits of an ecosystems-based approach to climate adaptation.

The rapid acceleration and enormity of global environmental change places colossal demands on humanity to marshal innovative ways and processes for connecting knowledge systems that are conducive to sustainability learning and recognize the convolutions of socio–ecological systems and the challenges of the anthropocene [22,23]. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness that scientific knowledge (SK) alone is inadequate for solving the climate crisis [24] which has led to growing recognition of local, indigenous, traditional knowledge as an important source of climate knowledge and adaptation strategies. Byg [25] contend that it is erroneous to understand social ecological issues based on SK alone. Thus, the role of indigenous knowledge in climate adaptation in Ghana is required to buttress scientific knowledge adoption [26]. On the other hand, the challenges brought on by global climate change are beyond the lived experience of all knowledge holders, whether scientific or indigenous [27,28]. Owusu Ansah [18] opined that the utilization and efficacies of IK remained indubitable for decades but owing to recent unpredictability in the observed changes in the environment, coupled with the fast increasing susceptibilities of communities to climate change, absolute reliance on the sources of indigenous indicators for correctly predicting environmental changes have become more difficult and obsolete for farmers. Also, the potencies of the identified IK adaptation practices for yielding perfect responses to changes in the environment have become riskier and challenging as time goes by. Even though the relevance of indigenous knowledge sources and practices remain indispensable in the struggle to adapt to climate change, efforts will be more promising should there be a co-production of other knowledge sets (science based) to buttress established positive practices in IK Owusu Ansah [18]. This has led to several calls for interdisciplinary climate change research in modern studies [29-31]. Gratani et al. [32], show that integration of traditional knowledge through scientific validation can be respectful and empowering. To succeed, we cannot afford to lose insights and information originating from multiple knowledge systems [33].

However, studies that advocate and utilize the co-production of multiple knowledge systems that integrate IK and SK as the way forward to climate adaptation efforts in Ghana remain scanty. Aside from the relatively significant physiognomies of spatial locations in climate change manifestations on the global scale, existing literature on the subject is unsatisfactorily scanty in the context of sub-Saharan Africa and Ghana in part [18]. Thus, this paper reviews studies that have presented promising findings from the incorporation of IK and SK elsewhere to inform new approaches to climate adaptation in Ghana. In the face of climate change risks and impacts that remain uncertain and unpredictable, there is a growing need for policies and action that foster the co-production of new knowledge sets, based upon collaborative efforts involving IK and SK holders. Co-management regimes that bring communities and the State together to jointly manage natural resources, have provided an important arena for the development of knowledge coproduction [34-36].

Reaping From the Synergy: One Plus One is More Than Two

Studies by scholars provide examples from across the globe where the recognition of complementarities across knowledge systems have advanced the understanding, and in many cases improved management, of ecosystems, critical natural resources, and biodiversity. In Africa according to Guthiga and Newsham, (2011) and Kalanda Joshua et al. [37], rainmakers in the Nganyi community of western Kenya and farmers in Nessa Village in southern Malawi have worked in partnership with meteorological scientists to create integrated forecasts that are being disseminated by both indigenous and conventional methods to enhance community resilience to climate change and its adversarial upshots. Uganda [38] highlighted the maintenance, protection and continuity of the use of indigenous knowledge in the management of natural resources as a project in its National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA). Also, Ethiopia included the documentation and advancement of indigenous rangeland resource management as a way to enhance resource management practices. Mozambique incorporated the role of local forecasting knowledge in strengthened early warning systems for detecting changes in the environment. The United Republic of Tanzania [39] encouraged the promotion of indigenous knowledge in the agriculture sector.

In Cape Verde, the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture promoted the need to understand traditional knowledge in relation to variations in the water cycle and agro-silvo-pastoral production systems. In 2008, Liberia recognized the necessity to better integrate indigenous and effective coping strategies into its national development policy and planning in order to better respond to the growing incidence and intensity of climatic shocks so that the country will be in a better position to address the situation within the context of its existing sustainable development policy processes. In West Africa, an initiative has been piloted by the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee and UNESCO, which brought together pastoralist M’bororo weather forecasting knowledge with scientific seasonal and long-term forecasts. This initiative is grounded on a sequence of discussions and exchanges between indigenous and scientific knowledge holders, with the support of indigenous knowledge experts [40]. This initiative occasioned instances where Meteorological services integrated indigenous knowledge, such as phenological data, into their projections to provide users with more broadly based information [41]. In Kenya and Ghana, multiple avenues of culturally appropriate communications are used to ensure that advisories and forecasts are disseminated to farmers and livestock keepers [42]. Also, CARE International’s “Joto Afrika: Climate communication for adaptation” provides an example of a platform where SK provides data for IK holders to assess their decision-making on when to plant. By providing the capacity to develop rainfall records from their own community rain gauges, agro pastoralists can take informed decisions on planting dates.

Based on a report by ACIA [43], The Arctic Council’s Arctic Climate Impact Assessment is a successful approach to the collaboration of IK with SK that resulted in the incorporation of a broad set of observations from indigenous peoples alongside a regional assessment of the impacts of climate change in the Arctic. This brought together representatives of IK and SK holders on the Artic Council to cooperate and integrate both knowledge sources into a report that produced two chapters on indigenous perspectives and incorporated nine case studies into the final report. Such collaboration led to a robust knowledge base on the impacts of climate change on the Arctic, with indigenous and scientific knowledge supporting each other [43,44].


Transforming governance of biodiversity and ecosystems toward sustainability will require a rich understanding of the complex interactions of people and nature at different scales, and of the drivers and feedbacks that affects these interactions [45]. The rapid acceleration and enormity of global environmental change places colossal demands on humanity to marshal innovative ways and processes for connecting knowledge systems that are conducive to sustainability learning and recognize the convolutions of socio– ecological systems. We argue that to achieve this, the science-policy community needs to embrace a diversity of knowledge systems, and when connecting to knowledge from local or indigenous communities, it must think beyond aspects that can easily be fitted into conventional models and frameworks. Also, the partial success of the use of traditional knowledge in coping with climate change leads to the conclusion that a healthy relationship between scientific knowledge and traditional or indigenous knowledge – which both have their limitations – is desirable, especially in developing countries where technology for prediction and modeling is least developed [46]. We therefore suggest that, in the face of climate change risks and impacts that remain uncertain and unpredictable, there is an increasing need for procedures and measures that nurture the coproduction of new knowledge sets, grounded on collaborative energies encompassing community-based knowledge holders and natural and social scientists to tackle the climate change bottlenecks that engulf Ghana [18]. Our study demonstrates that understanding and use of climate adaptation strategies should be overarching in the context of Ghana to incorporate indigenous and scientific knowledge to achieve a counterbalance. Through this, the strengths of both knowledge sources will combine to produce promising returns that could be achieved individually; one plus one is more than two [47,48]. Therefore, an understanding established on multiple evidences can afford stronger confidence in conclusions where knowledge and understanding converge across knowledge systems. Our findings accentuate the quintessential requirement for efforts that embrace continuous training and education on climate-smart farming practices, on-hand provision of extension officers and up-to-date meteorological data, constant supply of farm inputs and inculcate partnerships and periodic organization of regional-district-community workshops or forums that bring together IK and SK holders to forge new set of measures and mitigating strategies to adeptly tackle climate-induced challenges on the agriculture sector of Ghana.

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Monday 24 August 2020

Lupine Publishers | Socioeconomic Determinants and Constraints to Small-scale Sheep Marketing in Gombe Metropolis, Gombe State Nigeria

   Lupine Publishers | Current Investigations in Agriculture and Current Research


The study focused on the socio-economic and challenges faced by small-scale sheep marketers in Gombe metropolis. A multi-stage sampling technique was used to select 91 sheep marketers from four markets. Data were collected using structured questionnaire and were analysed using descriptive statistics, farm budget and multiple regression models. The results revealed that, the mean age of sheep marketers was 40.59 years, 96.70% were males, 86.81% were married, with the majority (87%) had family size ranging from 1 – 20 persons, and had 17.68 mean years of experience. Also, the result revealed that 57.14% of the marketers combined sheep trading with other occupations to supplement their household earnings. Furthermore, the result revealed that purchasing cost for ram and ewe constituted 92.59% (₦ 27,615.38; $77.32) and 91.50% (₦ 23,793.96; $66.62) of the total costs respectively. Moreover, the result revealed average total return of ₦ 32,837.36 ($91.94) per head of animal was realized. The coefficient of multiple determination (R2) was 0.821; meaning that 82.10% variations in the total returns were influenced by the socio-economic characteristics included in the regression model. Also, the result revealed that, number of animals held per week was significant (P<0.01). Inadequate capital was critical; this was attributed to inadequate source of formal credits. Other market facilities such as clean environment and security were also lacking. However, improvement in the existing infrastructural facilities will help expand the present scale of operations. To improve efficiency, Governments and financial institutions should ensure funds in the form of loans are extended to the marketers.

Keywords: Socio economics; Determinants; Constraints; Sheep; Marketing; Gombe


The demand for sheep and their products is destined to increase by more than 250% in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially the West Africa [1]. This will result from population growth, accelerated urbanization, incomes generation and consequently increased purchasing power of the populations. In economic terms, small ruminant rearing plays a major role in household incomes. With regards to poverty reduction [2]; reported that, about 675 million of world’s rural poor, including nearly 170 million in Sub-Saharan Africa are entirely or partially dependent on small ruminant’s production to feed them or obtain financial remuneration. According to [3], small ruminants are raised for various reasons such as; income generation, religious purposes, festive events, household consumption and hobby as well as security against crop failure. Moreover, small ruminants have often been found to be superior to saving money in the banks, because of the higher net annual returns [4]. Also, the skins of sheep and goats contributed significantly to the country’s economy through foreign exchange [5,6]. However, the performance of market is influenced by two major factors; the structural characteristics of the market; and the competitive behavior of actors in the marketing chain. The socio-economic variables could affect production directly by influencing the volume and level of output and the marketing aspect by controlling the storage, preservation and disposal of the farm produce to the ultimate consumer [7]. The important socioeconomic determinants of the marketers include; age, gender, marital status, household size, educational attainment, years of marketing experience, source and volume of initial capital, annual income, membership of union, etc [8].

However, agricultural marketing is bedeviled by a lot of problems; some of which arise because of the basic characteristics and problems of Nigeria’s Agriculture. Marketing constraints arise due to so many factors such as; limited knowledge and use of market information, lack of access to high-value reliable markets, socioeconomic factors, high transactional costs, inadequate property rights, lack of bargaining power, excesses of intermediaries and distance from the source of supply [9]. However, marketing constraints constitute the greatest barrier for small-scale operators when it comes to access high value markets, and these factors restrain farmers from making decisions to participate in the markets [10]. Therefore, overcoming these constraints is critical for small-scale farmers to access lucrative markets. It is worthwhile study to small ruminant to identify its production and marketing participants and as well as the constraints, to provide information that looks into the possible ways and means of increasing traders’ income through accumulating capital and enhancing productivity and marketing. To this effect, the study is therefore made to achieve the following specific objectives: (a) to describe the socio-economic characteristics of sheep marketers in the study area; (b) to ascertain the effect of socio-economic characteristics on total returns of sheep marketers in the study area; (c) to identify and describe the constraints to sheep marketing in the study area.

Research Methodology

The study area

Gombe metropolis is the principal commercial centre of Gombe State, serves as the State capital as well the Headquarters of Gombe Local Government Authority. Situated on longitude 11° 10´ E and latitude 10° 17´ N; and shares common boundaries with three local government areas of the state; Akko to the south-west, Yemaltu- Deba to the east and Kwami to the north-west covering an area of 5,200km2 [11]. Moreover, Gombe town is regarded a confluence city of economic activities, by its position as the meeting point for agrobusiness people from the surrounding States of Yobe, Borno, Taraba, Adamawa and Bauchi. This advantage, made the State vibrant in all respects of the economy [11]. According to [12], Gombe metropolis had human population of 268,536 in 2006; with a projection of 363,061 people in 2017. The inhabitants of Gombe metropolis are mostly traders, civil servants, small-scale farmers and other nonagricultural service providers [11]. The study area is characterised with a warm climate, having a mean diurnal temperatures of 35 °C to 40 °C during the hottest months of (March to May) and to about less than 30 °C during harmattan [12]. The area has two distinct seasons based on the amount of rainfall received; the dry season (November to April) and the wet/rainy season (May to October) with an average (850 mm) amount of rainfall received per annum in 110 to 125 days.

Sampling Procedure

Sampling and sample size

A multi-stage sampling technique was used to select 91 sheep marketers. In stage I, Gombe metropolis was purposively selected because it is the commercial centre of the State, and also assumed to have contained majority of the target population for the study. In stage II the study area was delineated into two major sheep market districts; Gombe-north and Gombe-south and were purposively selected. In stage III, from each market district, two markets; Tikebabba and Tike-jauro-abare; Tike-pantami and Tike-nasarawo were purposively selected from Gombe-north and Gombe-south respectively. The choice was made because these markets were notably popular in sheep marketing in the State. In stage IV a total of 91 sheep marketers were selected using simple random sampling technique proportionate to the number of marketers in each market. This ensures that every member of the population has equal and independent chance of being selected [13]. However, in determining the sample size appropriate for this study, the [14] model was used, where 20% of the population was suggested. Therefore, according to this model, the appropriate sample size for this study was 91 sheep traders. A proportional allocation technique was then used to determine the number of sample from each market. For the purpose of this study, the proportion of the respondents from each market was determined using the formula below, as adopted by [15];

ni=(p)*n/N ...(1)


ni= proportional ratio of each market;

N = estimated target population;

n = sample size;

p = population of each market.

However, according to this model, the samples were randomly and proportionally selected based on the estimated population of traders in each of the selected markets. The distribution of the proportionately estimated sample size/sampling frame (91/456) of sheep marketers in Gombe metropolis were; Tike-babba (42/209); Tike-jauro-abare (15/74); Tike-pantami (23/116); Tike-nasarawo (11/57); obtained from the Gombe State Sheep and Goat Traders Association.

Method of Data Collection

Data for this study were collected from the primary sources using structured questionnaire; this was supported with personal interview in situations where the respondents did not understand the questions. Also, an informal in situ interviews noting responses and observing the marketing process was conducted simultaneously with the formal questionnaire administration.This allowed for generation of qualitative information which was not captured in the questionnaire. The questionnaire modules consisted of coded and open-ended questions made to collect information on socioeconomic variables; marketing variables as well as constraints. In addition, the questionnaire also allowed respondents discuss freely the particular marketing issues of concern to them.

Method of Data Analysis

There are many analytical tools available for use in research of this kind and the choice depends on the availability of data [14]. This section describes many techniques that were used in data analysis for this study. In this study, the descriptive statistics such means and percentage; farm budget and multiple linear regression models were used.

Models specification

The mean model used for the study was therefore expressed as follows, as adopted by [16];

x=Σfxi/Σf ...(2)


x = Mean of grouped data;

Σfxi = Sum of products of variables and frequencies;

Σf = Sum of all frequencies of variables.

To determine the total returns in sheep marketing the farm budget model was employed. Thus, costs-return analysis as described by [17,18] was achieved by the following relationships;

TC = TVC +TFC… (3)

TR = P x Q … (4)


TC = Total marketing costs (₦);

TVC = Total variable costs (₦);

TFC = Total fixed costs (₦);

TR = Total return (₦);

P = Unit price of sheep (₦);

Q = Number of sheep sold per week.

Moreover, the multiple liner regression model was used to estimate the cause, degree and effect relationship of some selected socio-economic variables and the total returns of sheep marketers. The model in its general form was specified as:

Y = f(X1,X2,X3,X4,X5X6X7,...Ui)...(5)


Y = Estimated total return (₦),

X1 = Age (years),

X2 = Marital status (1=married; 0=otherwise),

X3 = Household size (number),

X4 = Initial capital (₦),

X5 = Number of animals hold per week

X6 = Marketing experience (years),

X7 = Educational level (1=primary, 0=otherwise)

Ui = Error term.

According to [14], the functional form of the multiple linear regression model is expressed in its explicit form as;

Y = b0 + b1 X1 + b2 X2 + b3 X3 + b4 X4 + b5 X5 + b6 X6 + b7 X7 + Ui


bo = constant

b1–b7 = regression coefficients

X1 –X7 = independent variables

Ui = error term.

Results and Discussion

Socio-economic characteristics of sheep marketers

Age: in marketing studies, the age of the respondents is an important factor as it may reflect on the level of efficiency of an individual market participant. Age is a variable which describes the stages of development of an individual, either young and/or old, measured in years. It is logical to think that an individual’s efficiency declines with increasing age [19]. According to [20] age is one of the factors that influence traders’ decision making in resource allocation, managerial ability and responsibilities. Similarly, [21] reported that, age is a pivotal characteristic that dictates the nature and extent of traders on how to carry out marketing activities. The study revealed that 39.56% of the sheep traders were within the age bracket of 30–39 years, followed by those within the age range of 40–49 years (27.47%), then those within the range of 20 – 29 years (13.19%), while those above 70 years accounted for only 4.4%; with the mean age of 40.59 years as shown in Table 1. This implies that sheep traders in Gombe metropolis were in their active stage and can take risks in anticipation of profit. Reference [20] obtained similar findings that mean age of cattle traders in Gombe metropolis was 42 years. Reference [21] asserted that these traders were still in their economic active ages; they were assumed innovative, adaptive, physically and mentally upright that would be able to withstand any tedious activity in traditional patterns of marketing.

Marital status: marital status simply means living single or in a matrimonial relationship which includes past and present positions such as single, married, divorce, widowed etc. [22,23]. Marital status distribution is very important as it helps to have idea of marketing participant’s devotion to the marketing process and the likely outcome of this on his/her business activities. Marital status of a person determines the degree of responsibility of that person in the society and the manners in which he/she will judicious allocate the scarce resources at his or her disposal [24]. However, Table 1 shows that majority (86.81%) of sheep marketers were married, 12.09% were single and 1.10% was divorced; meaning that marketing of sheep in the study area was dominated by married individuals. This agrees with the findings of [25], who found that 73.3% of the livestock marketers in central zone of Adamawa State were married [26]. Contended that, marriage is an important factor in the livelihood of individuals in the society as it is perceived to confer responsibility on individuals. Reference [27] also viewed married individuals have more responsibilities such as provision of foods, education, health and general well-being for the family. This might be reasons; the business is dominated by the married people unlike the case for the singles who may not likely have other people to take care of beside themselves.

Household size: this refers to the total number of individuals that live under same roof and feed from the same pot [23]. Household size is an important socio-economic variable that determines availability of family labour supply [28]. According to [20], households are those eating from one pot, and their consumption unit is equal to their production unit. It is reasonable to think that the larger the number of household members, the more the social commitments of the working adults who have the responsibility of providing the needs of the household. However, working adult depends on income from marketing activities to meet these social obligations; this can subsequently lead to more devotion to the income-generating activities they are engaged in. However, the results revealed that 42.86% had household size range of 1–10 persons, 43.95% had 11–20 persons, 12.09% had 21–30 persons, and only 1.1% that had household size of 31–40; with the mean household size of 13 persons per family (Table 1). The result agrees with the findings of [29] who reported that, the mean household size of most of marketers in northern Nigeria was 13 members per family. This implies that sheep marketers in Gombe metropolis had manageable family sizes which may add to them of extra helping hands in their ventures. Reference [30] opined that, household size determines the availability of family labour. But in contrast, [31] reported that large family size of cattle traders in Jos Plateau State had negative consequences, as the family heads bear heavy burden, which greatly undermined their investment expansion capacity.

Level of education: this improves the ability of traders to make wise marketing decisions; for most people and societies, formal education confers a wider range of opportunities and advantages for success in life compared with illiteracy [19]. It is assumed that educational attainment may lead to a better understanding of the market dynamics and thus better profit from the use of sound business principles and wise business decisions. However, Table 1 also depicts that sheep marketers with secondary education had the highest proportion (37.36%), closely followed by those that had other forms of education, such as Islamiyah and/or adult/nonformal education (30.76%). Moreover, those with primary education constituted 21.98%, and only 9.9% that had tertiary education. It may be concluded that all sheep marketers in the study area had at least one or the other form of education. This implies that they could acquire skills and knowledge, which is important in obtaining information about marketing, thereby increasing their revenues. Reference [32] reported similar findings and concluded that, level of education attained increases the ability of the marketers to understand and evaluate information on new techniques. Also, level of formal education is assumed to have implication on the extent to which the marketers will be pro-active and receptive to new ideas, and to find it relatively easier to deal with customers in the exchange process. Although, the ability to trade farm produce is not necessarily a function of one’s level of education, it however helps in the efficient performance of all the marketing functions such as; loan application, effective communication, record keeping and devising strategies on how to enhance efficient marketing activities and survive during different period by either diversifying or evolving new approach that ensure keeping him in business without necessary encountering discomfort losses.

Primary occupation: occupation is another important socio-economic variable. It indicates the status of respondent in sustaining their 1ivelihood [33]. As a component of socioeconomic status, occupation encompasses both income and educational attainment of an individual. Occupational status reflects the educational attainment required to obtain the job and income levels that vary with different jobs and within ranks of occupations [34]. The result of the study revealed that 42.86% of sheep marketers in Gombe metropolis claimed to have marketing as their primary occupation; 25.27% were crop producers; 13.19% engaged in some artisanal jobs; and 10.99% were civil servants (Table 2). This shows that most (57.14%) of the marketers were on part time basis, such that their involvement in other different types of occupations were to augment their household incomes [35]. This corroborates with the work of [36] who found that, majority of poultry producers were civil servants in Kwara State, indicating that the activity was on part time basis; implying that they do not depend on the business as the sole means of livelihood. This is in accordance with the assertion of [37], who found that it is common for some farm households to engage in other non-farm activities to complement their earnings. Moreover, [38] found occupational distribution of gum-arabic marketers in Borno State, and revealed that majority (71%) were farmers. This was also in agreement with the findings of [15], who reported that majority of households in sub Saharan Africa, engaged in more than one occupation. Also in accordance with [39], who reported that small-scale agro-business could be successfully combined with other vocations to ensure continuous and stable flow of incomes to the households.

Marketing experience: is a technical skill acquired in management of marketing activities with regards to certain conditions [22]. Years of experience are a measure of the period an individual marketer was involved; and plays a very important role in every human Endeavour. It is the basis of skills acquisition and success in business [40]. According to [41], marketing experience enables traders to adequately organize and manage their businesses in expectation of better profit. However, Table 1 reveals that, most (58.24%) of the sheep marketers in the study area had years of marketing experience range of 11–20; closely followed by 18.68% had 01–10 years of experience. The result further revealed the mean years of marketing experience was 17.68. This could infer that, the more the years of experience in sheep marketing the less the number of traders. This might be due to the fact that, some of the traders dropped out of the business because of age or inability to take and manage risk associated with marketing of sheep in the study area. But, [20,33,41], all opined that, marketers with long years of marketing experience were likely to understand the market situation thereby taking and managing risk and uncertainties in marketing activities in an attempt to generate more profit. In addition, the mean years of experience shows that the marketers were experienced enough in the business, a knowledge which would enable them understand the intricacies of the trade and thus be able to operate at a reduced marketing cost. One may conclude that sheep marketing in the study area was stable, sustainable and dependable since people stayed for long period of years. By implication, the business seems to be profitable, since nobody will spend several years in an unprofitable enterprise; this is due to the fact that experience creates behavioral confidence in the business and increases buyers – sellers’ engagement and stronger relationship.

Source of initial capital: capital is one of the most important components of any investment [42]. Its availability and accessibility tend to have great influence in the marketing process. However, agricultural marketing requires considerable investment of fund in the area of bulk purchases. Source of credit/loans for financing marketing activities could have a lot of influence on the performance of marketing, since interest rates usually influence the amount of money available for investment and the profit realized from marketing [43]. The result shows that, 81.32% of the marketers claimed to have sourced their initial capital from personal savings; 10.99% from family and friends; 5.49% from rotatory savings (adashe); 1.1% each from money lenders and cooperative societies. Furthermore, Table 1 shows that, none of the sheep marketers in Gombe metropolis that had sourced their initial capital from formal sources. Reference [44] and [15] inferred that transaction costs involved in obtaining loan and as well the delay in disbursement might be important factors that limit marketers’ access to formal source of capital. Reference [45] also stated that, capital is a very strong factor that is needed to acquire or develop any enterprise; its availability could determine the extent of production and marketing capacity. Reference [46] further noted that, access to formal source of capital could have prospect in improving the productivity of traders and contributing to uplifting the livelihoods of disadvantaged rural farming communities.

Number of animals held per week: the number of animals hold and or supplied to the market depends on the market demand; differences in the quantity offered and sold varied with the trader and also varied with the market. This may be as a result of variation in marketing experience, capital, number of participants, price determinants and other factors that determined size of the business [22]. The result reveals most (54.95%) of the sheep marketers could hold (supplied and sold) between 11 and 20 heads of sheep per week. Closely followed by those who held 1– 22 heads of sheep per week accounted for 24.18% of the marketers. The result further revealed that only 01.1% of the marketers that could supply and sell between 51 and 60 heads of sheep per week in the study area. The mean weekly number of animals supplied and sold was found to be 19 heads. According to [47], the demand for sheep as source of protein is significantly high; and also this had evidence of the appreciable profit made by the traders. However, the findings further revealed that most of the sheep marketers in the study area were operating on subsistence level. This might not be unconnected with the difficulty in acquiring the required capital, resource inputs, seasonality and as well as the speculative activities of middlemen. Studies have shown that most of the urban agricultural marketers in Nigeria operated on small-scale level; who were characterized by low productivity which leads to low income and low capital investment [35]. Number of animals supplied defines marketers’ level of business operations; ceteris paribus, the higher the scale, the higher the marketing profit because of possible economies of scale. Therefore, number of animals held per week is expected to have a positive effect on the net income. But in contrast with [48] that, firm size has no effect to greater returns, because small size holdings can generate far more returns than the large scale holdings in South Africa.

Membership of union: marketing associations serve as platform for sharing experiences, identifying and solving common problems among members. Membership to groups, focusing on a product of the market chain is an important determinant of performance [49]. Presence of groups where market players can join and access the services offered increases their bargaining power for prices and a better service which consequently improves their performance in the market chain [50]. Table 1 shows the distribution of sheep marketers by membership of marketing association in the study area. The result revealed that majority (86.81%) subscribed to the membership of sheep marketing association, whereas (13.19%) did not subscribe to the membership of association. The implication of the result is that members of sheep marketing association might have easy access to extension services, market and credit facilities. However, [51] had similar findings and concluded that, most marketers joined Association because of the results achieved by members, mostly in terms of the association’s link to markets, credit facilities and extension services. Reference [52] stated that membership of cooperative societies has advantages of accessibility to micro-credit, input subsidy, helps to share information and project collective demand. But, [53] obtained dissimilar findings that, only 10% were members of fire wood sellers’ association in Adamawa State. The low level of involvement may be for the fact that there was a stringent government regulation that banned the indiscriminate cutting of trees; most marketers prefer to operate in isolation to avoid collision with government’s law enforcement agents. Another reason for low involvement in the association is that, most of the marketers were new entrants into the business. However, the non-members were assumed to have not enjoyed benefits accrued by the co-operative societies, through pooling off resources for better expansion, efficiency and effective management and as well as profit maximization.

Table 1: Socio-economic characteristics of sheep marketers.


Source: Field survey (2017).

Costs and returns of sheep marketing per week in gombe metropolis

Costs of sheep marketing were considered as; variable and fixed costs, while returns were obtained from the sales of live animals. The marketing cost was conceptualized as the difference between the amount paid by the ultimate consumers and the amount received by the producer [54]. The marketing costs involved in sheep trading in the study area is the sum of transport cost, costs of casual labour, feeding costs, costs of drugs, commission fees, loading and offloading costs, phone calls, union dues, taxes, depreciation on durable items such as feeders, drinkers, ropes, pegs, stalls, carpentry works and other costs associated with moving live animals from the point of purchase/producer to the final consumer. However, Table 2 shows the average total costs and returns of trading average 19 heads of ram and/or ewe per trader per week. The results revealed the average total costs of marketing 19 heads of ram per week per trader were ₦ 566,686.54, ($1,586.72) and ₦ 494,079.56 ($1,383.42) for ewe. This was because the supply costs of rams were higher than that of ewe. The results further revealed the average variable costs accounted for 99.15% and 99.02% of the average total costs of the respective animals. This agrees with [55] who conceptualised that, small-scale entrepreneurs’ capital allocated to fixed inputs is low and sometimes negligible. Reference [56] and [57] further supported this idea, that the proportion of fixed cost components in small-scale agricultural marketing, mostly constituted <1.0% of the total marketing costs in Bauchi State. In terms of returns; the average gross margin (GM) of ₦ 103,687.65 ($290.33) and ₦ 93,061.45 ($260.57) were realised from the sales of 19 heads of ram and ewe respectively. This further revealed per head average net income of ₦ 5,201.86 ($14.57) and ₦ 4,643.06 ($13.0) of the respective animals. The result concurred with [58], who found gross margins of ₦ 6,548.00 ($18.33); per head of cattle in south-west Nigeria. Also [59], recorded similar results that ₦ 3,037 ($8.50) per head of goat was realized as net income in Benue State. These corroborate the assertion of [60] that, for any small-scale agro investment to optimally achieve profitability, at least 10% of the total variable costs should be realised as net firm income. Also, in line with Kolo [39] who found the mean total return of ₦ 27,685.92 ($77.52) per head of animal in Dambam Local Government Area of Bauchi State and concluded that the business was profitable (Table 2).

Table 2: Costs-returns of sheep marketing in Gombe metropolis.


NB; ₦1= $0.0028.

Source: Field survey data (2017).

Effect of Socio-economic characteristics on total returns of sheep marketers

Multiple regression analysis was used to measure and predict the degree, cause and effect relationship between the socioeconomic variables and total returns. However, Table 3 shows the results of the linear function; the choice was based on a priori expectations in terms of magnitude and direction of the coefficients, magnitude of the coefficients of multiple determinations (R2), and the overall performance of the model. The fitness of the model was confirmed by the absence of autocorrelation through the significance of the F-value. The result revealed the coefficient of multiple determinations (R2) as 0.821. Meaning that 82.10% variations in the total returns of sheep marketers were influenced by the socioeconomic characteristics included in the model. The F-ratio was significant (P<0.01), meaning that the independent variables have adequately described the dependent variable included in the model. Moreover, the result further revealed that, of the nine explanatory variables included in the model, only number of animal held per week that was significant (P<0.01). Meaning that unit increase in the level of supply of animals in the study area would lead to unit increase in total returns realized [61]. It is generally believed that the more the experience of a market participant, the greater is the efficiency of that individual hence the higher the returns. However, the coefficient of marketing experience was positively non-significant. This was in line with the result of Table 1; which shows the average marketing experience of 17.68 years. From this distribution, majority of the respondents were expected to have mastered the skills required for high performance in sheep marketing. This implies that length of marketing experience was not important determinant of returns in sheep marketing. This was because, those that stayed long in the business may be older, less educated and may be reluctant to adopt new trends and techniques in marketing than the young and new entrants [62,63].

Table 3: Multiple linear regression analysis.


***P<0.01 level of significance.

Source: Field survey data (2017).

Table 4: Major constraints to sheep marketing.


*Multiple responses.

Source: Field survey data (2017).

Constraints to Sheep Marketing in Gombe Metropolis

Table 4 reveals all (100%) of sheep marketers in Gombe metropolis had complained seriously of non-remunerative prices on sales. This corroborates with high marketing costs especially the commission fees, transportation costs as a result of far distance from the source of supply and as well as high purchasing prices of the animals. Inadequate capital was also critical as far as sheep marketing in Gombe metropolis is concern; this was attributed to inadequate sources of credits; and had stated that if they had enough money, they would be able to increase the number of animals per supply, thereby making more profit and expand market size. Moreover, inadequate finance hinders marketers from getting the necessary resources and technologies which could assist them achieve higher marketing efficiency [64]. Reference [65] reported inadequate capital was one of major problems facing smallscale business in Benue State Nigeria. Reference [66] obtained similar findings that 93% of fish producers in Adamawa State had problem of insufficient funds which incapacitated them to provide enough inputs. However, Bakoji [67] suggested that marketers should as well join cooperatives, which could help them obtain market information; project a collective demands and also helped increase their capital through self-help contributions and help them maintain stable and uniform prices. Reference [51] further added that cooperatives serve as platforms for sharing experiences, identifying and solving common problems associated with the business. Price fluctuation in sheep markets was also a serious problem for the traders.

For instance, while expecting the previous year’s price, traders may tend to supply large volume of animals, but then the prices decreased unexpectedly. Brokers also create price instability so as to benefit themselves by misinforming traders about the prevailing market prices. This indicated that (84.62%) of the marketers faced difficulties in forecasting their gross returns, leading to poor planning [38]. Also, too much seasonal variation in price especially during religious festivals, such that low price did not offer sufficient incentive for sufficient supply. The result agrees with [68] who asserted that frequent price variations of farm produce is a major concern to producers, marketers and consumers [69]. Added that commodity prices may reflect seasonal production patterns by being at the lowest at peak production and highest at lean period. Also, 89.01% of the marketers had complained of transport related problems, which had much dispersion. In some cases, there are insufficient vehicles to carry animals from the farms to the rural markets and then to the study area. Most of the marketers depended on commercial vehicle as their means of transportation. In some cases, there were no or the roads were seasonal. This probably increased the transport fares. Increased cost of transportation due to the increased in oil price is also another problem mentioned.

Reference [70] stated that, inadequacy of transport facilities especially in rural areas leading to high transportation cost, inefficient and inadequate storage facilities, poor marketing of agricultural produce are some of the problems facing marketing of agricultural produce in Nigeria. Reference [71] added that, high transportation costs accounted for high proportion of the total marketing costs in most parts of the country. Reference [72] reported that, armed robbers used the opportunity of having poor roads; attacked and sometimes even killed marketers. The implication here is that, transportation problems are largely responsible for the slow increase in marketing efficiency and lead to continuous subsistence level of production in many parts of the supply sources. This also made both producers and marketers to resort sales at the nearby markets thereby losing greater proportion of their supposedly income to exploitatively dubious middlemen in the area [73]. The result therefore agrees with [74] that, existence of transport bottlenecks, lack of marketing information and lack of scientific grading and sorting of animals, with the result that prices do not refer to equivalent grades in the markets, account for low marketing efficiency in the study area. Furthermore, [75] stated that transportation is necessary to satisfy the utility of place and time. He further added that, sometimes storage may be required to adjust supply levels to meet the demand at moderate prices since consumption is regular and continuous. Reference [39] admitted that any of the available modes of transportation in Dambam Local Government Bauchi State had its own inherent problem which results to emaciation, loss and death of the animals in transit. Also, the activities of unregulated livestock produce checking points and theft cases along these routes compound the marketing problems. This drastically reduces the profit of sheep marketers in the study area. The result further revealed that 98.90% of the respondents had problems of low access to formal loan to boost their marketing activities. This agrees with [76], who in their findings reported that 80% of marketers in Niger State complained of lack of credit access associated with the volume of loan, cumbersome procedures, interest rates, collaterals and several trips to the bank before loan was granted were their major problems. Reference [77]; and [78] added that small-scale agribusiness firms faced a number of barriers in obtaining credits.

Reference [79] obtained similar results that agribusiness involves huge investments requiring availability of credit facilities to enhance and encourage adoption of technologies as well as modern marketing strategies. Such credit facilities are mostly inaccessible by small-scale marketers due to stringent conditions attached to its procurement. This is because most of them operate within a vicious cycle of poverty that prevent them access to such formal loans. This implies that, without loan to facilitate the involvement and adoption of improved technologies, marketers will not be able to expand the scope of the enterprise, which in turn would not satisfy consumers’ demand. The livestock sector was believed to be high employment generating sector but is constrained with so many problems, which in the long run limit expansion and thereby affect employment generation capacity [80]. Moreover, the marketers had problems of; scarcity of animals during festivals, diseases and pests, risks of buying unhealthy animals, theft/insecurity and as well as low educational level. Other market facilities such as clean environment, good sheds, veterinary services, fire services, banks, security, water supply, and good toilets etc. which contribute to efficient marketing were also lacking. Reference [81] observed that, lack of these basic amenities in and around markets add considerably to the marketing constraints, resulting in reduction in income. Security issues as the least constraint to sheep marketing in the study area was attributed to the ethnic conflicts and insurgency; in and around sources of livestock.


Based on the results obtained from this study, it may be concluded that the enterprise is profitable, dominated mostly by young married males who acquired one or the other form of education. The total returns recorded, implied that all the participants were able to cover the total costs incurred in sheep marketing and hence the total returns were influenced by the socio-economic characteristics of the marketers. It is however, a clear indication that the business is efficient and has the potentials of increasing the marketers’ income; which can induce and attracts new entrants into the market. The study will therefore serve as a guide for further research into small ruminants’ value chain, and also a base line for policy makers to intervene in designing changes and formulating a more effective market policy for the growth and development of livestock sector as a whole.


Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations were made aimed at improving sheep marketing in Gombe metropolis;

a) Meat consumption still remains the major source of proteins; as shown by positive gross margins, high and sustained investment by individuals and government in this sector is recommended, so that production and marketing of sheep will become a business away from its present subsistence state;

b) Governments and NGOs should intervene to encourage sheep marketers to engage in cooperative activities by providing the initial take-off capital needs and fostering an enabling environment for cooperative activities to thrive. This will also enable them reaps the advantage of economies of scale and help facilitate easy access to formal credit facilities;

c) Governments and other financial institutions should do more to extend funds in the form of soft loans to the marketers. This will help increase the capital base of the individual traders and also attract new entrants. Also, access to institutional credit will enable producers embark on large scale production; thereby meeting up the gaps between demand and supply especially during festive periods;

d) Governments and other stakeholders should provide favourable and functional market regulating framework that can eliminate illegal fees or taxes charged along marketing channels for small ruminants. Also, government should harmonise taxes paid by the marketers and producers so as to have a unified livestock taxing system;

e) Transportation related problems could be solved through the provision of good and accessible roads in and around the supply sources, so as to reduce the cost of conveying live animals to the markets. Also, Governments should improve policies on security measures; to help reduce the rate of insecurities like armed robbery on the highways;

f) Improvement in existing infrastructural facilities will help promote expansion of the present scale of operation. This is important once the small ruminants’ producers are assured of ready market and good bargaining for their efforts in meeting the protein needs of the populace. However, Government and Marketers’ unions should adequately provide the needed infrastructures in and around the sheep markets in the study area.

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