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This study was embarked upon for the purposes of finding out constraints to the distribution of agricultural products by local producers in Taraba State, and to identify strategies for improving the distribution of agricultural products. In carrying out the study, five research questions were developed and five null hypotheses were formulated. Questionnaire was the only instrument used for data collection. Local producers of tea, tomatoes and dairy products in the Central Zone of Taraba State were identified as the population for the study. Two-hundred and thirty farmers of tea, tomatoes and dairy products drawn from the five local government areas of the Zone by means of simple randomization, made up the sample for this study. The data collected were analyzed using mean to answer research questions, standard deviation to determine the closeness or otherwise of the responses from the mean, t-test and analysis of variance (ANOVA) statistics to test the null hypotheses. The results of the data collected and analyzed showed that: (1) That the present means of transportation of products such as bicycles, motorcycles, donkeys, etc. encourage incidence of damage/theft of products.

(2) that poor conditions of roads during rainy season limit distribution of agricultural products through the season. (3) absence of warehouse/storage facilities prevents efficient distribution of agricultural products. (4) different agricultural products require different storage facilities. (5) that use of middlemen compound distribution of agricultural products by causing delay and rise in prices of products. (6)that excessive excise duties on agricultural products by government hampers distribution of products. (7) that the scrapping of some agricultural organizations by the government limits distribution of products. (8) that excise-free should be granted for distribution of some agricultural products by the government. (9) government should encourage the creation of farmers’ Associations for producers of different types of products. Based on the findings of this study, a conclusion was drawn that if the constraints considered by local farmers and strategies for improving distribution utilized; distribution of agricultural products will greatly be efficient. Among the recommendations that were adduced include: (1) need for infrastructural development advocacy and revival of rail system of transportation. (2) communities should embark on communal road-maintenance, at least twice during rainy season. (3) government should minimize the number and functions of revenue deriving agencies on distribution of some agricultural products. (4) government should construct public warehouses in every local government head-quarters so as to help store goods after harvest while waiting for distribution.



Background of the Study

Agricultural products encompass all categories of products related to agriculture. They range from raw and finished goods under the classifications of plants, animals and other life forms. Agricultural products can, therefore be referred to as crops and animals grown under cultivated conditions whether used for personal consumption, subsistence or sold for commercial benefits (Calestous, 2011).Agricultural products come in the form of fruits and vegetables, grains or cereals, livestock, natural fibres, forest and marine products (Adirika, 2001). Some agricultural products produced in Taraba state include: sugarcane, rice, groundnuts, beans, oil palms, cocoa, coffee, cattle, millet, maize, guinea corn, cotton, tomatoes, cowpea ,cocoyam, sweet potatoes, tea, timber, banana, yam, beniseed, coconut, cassava, citrus fruits, oranges, guavas, sheep, goats, pigs, apples, and grapes (Taraba State Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, 2012).Being agrarian in nature, the predominant population of Taraba state is engaged in farming as an occupation. About seventy-five percent (75%) of the population of the people are farmers or local producers while an estimated twenty-five percent (25%) is engaged in other economic activities. John (2002) stated that local producers are unsophisticated farmers in rural communities who are engaged in agricultural production which include raising of livestock, cultivation of crops and vegetables to eat and to sell at a local markets. Local producers therefore, are farmers (comprising of both male and female farmers) who own, work on or operate an agricultural enterprise either for commercial purpose or self-sustenance. Farmers in Taraba State usually move their products to local markets in small quantities by carrying them either on their heads or backs. A few others use either donkeys or bicycles to convey their goods to market places, due to the fact that vehicles do not reach their locations or farm centers. Equally, farmers make use of short channel structure, which is selling goods directly to the consumers without involving wholesalers and agents in the distribution process. The use of short channel of distribution is often done because farmers will want to dispose of their products immediately after harvest even when the prices are low, for fear that the products, especially perishable ones, might get spoilt soon as they cannot be stored because of lack of storage facilities, hence restricting the distribution of their products.

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