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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Agricultural Marketing

Agricultural Marketing involves a series of business activities or services associated with the transfer of agricultural commodities from the producers or farmers to the consumers. It is concerned with the movement of livestock and crops from thousands of scattered small-size farm where they are produced to the thousands of consumers located in rural and urban centres. Agricultural marketing includes the selling of farm inputs to farmers or the purchasing of farm inputs such as fertilizers, seeds, chemicals, implementation and the disposal of agricultural commodities to the final consumers or users.
   Marketing is a process, a function or an act of selling and thereby settling prices through the forces of supply and demand for that commodity. It involves all stages of operation which helps to move products from the farms to the ultimate consumers. These stages include assembling, preparation, grading, processing, packaging, storage, transportation, distribution, publicity and selling of products.

Stages/Functions involved in agricultural marketing 

   Marketing involves different stages. These stages are also referred to as marketing functions or services which are performed by the agricultural market agents or system. The stages or functions include:
1. Assembling 
2. Grading/sorting 
3. Processing 
4. Packaging 
5. Storage/Warehousing 
6. Transportation 
7. Advertisement and publicity 
8. Distribution 
9. Merchandizing/Pricing 

1. Assembling
This involves collecting farm products from different farmers so that they will be available in large quantities to attract buyers. This function can be performed by the farmer himself, an itinerant buyer or by a local market place. 

2. Grading/Sorting
It involves separating product using specifications or standard grading is needed to maintain high quality, enable good pricing policies and to promote exports. Some factors considered during grading include evenness of size, shape and quality, condition, purity, flavor and freedom from pest and diseases. This function of grading can be performed by the farmer, marketing organization or board and the wholesaler or retailer. 

3. Processing 
This involves changing the original form of the farm commodity to a more acceptable form to the consumer. Many farm products are processed before they are consumed. For example, cassava tubers are processed to garri, fruit and vegetables may be canned, seed cotton is ginned and spun into yarn. Processing increases the utility of most farm products. It also increases their value and price. The processing function can be performed by the farmers and the processors. 

4. Packaging 
This function involves putting farm products in small parcels or bundles. This makes some products such as eggs and sugar easier to handle. It also helps to compact others such as tobacco and cotton, by pressing them into bales. Packaging saves storage space and transport costs. It helps to keep products clean and protect them from damage at the same time adding value. Packaging can be performed by the farmer, processor, and other marketing agents such as the wholesalers. 

5. Storage/Warehousing 
   This involves keeping farm commodities for future use. The consumers demand for farm products very little throughout the year, but most farm production is seasonal. Storage or ware housing is necessary to make the product available throughout the year. Storage of farm produce can be done by the farmer or middleman. 

6. Transportation 
     This involves carrying of farm commodities from one place to another. All surplus farm produce needs some transport to the market place
This service can be provided by the farmer or middlemen. Where the roads are poor, transport cost is usually very high. This affects both the consumer and producer prices. 

7. Advertisement/Publicity
   It is concerned with making the existence of a farm product known to people. This is very important before products are distributed to stimulate or create demand. The creation of awareness for a product and stimulating demand is the task of advertising and other promotional activities. This is very useful to farmers selling uncontrolled products on the free market. The newspapers, electronic media like radio/television, farming press, sales literature, agricultural shows and trade fairs can be used to advertise farm commodities. 

8. Distribution 
        Distribution is concerned with sending or spreading out farm commodities from production area to individuals and places where they are needed. Traders, wholesalers and retailers help in the distribution network. 

9. Merchandising/Pricing 
     This involves buying and selling of farm commodities, through the negotiation of prices that are paid by buyers or received by sellers. 

Importance of Agricultural Marketing 

    The marketing of agricultural products has aimed great importance with movement from subsistence to commercial agriculture. This is because of the fact that excess production from the farms must be disposed off in order to earn income with which the farmers can purchase other goods and services not produced by them. Agricultural marketing is therefore making great contributions to the economic development of most developing countries such as Nigeria and Ghana. Specifically, the importance or contribution of Agricultural marketing in the economic development of the country include :
  1. Marketing makes it possible for farm products from farmers scattered in different places to reach the consumers in the farm, place and time they wanted. 
  2. Efficient marketing system location where there are surplus of farm produce and bring them to where there are shortages. 
  3. It is often time consuming for small farmers to take their surplus to a market place. Therefore, a middleman, a store keeper or itinerant trader buys from many farmers and sells to a marketing organization or directly to consumers. 
  4. An efficient marketing system gives farmers higher prices but also gives consumers lower ones and thus expand their buying power. 
  5. Marketing conditions influence the production of goods and services. This is because consumers show preference for products through the prices they are prepared to pay. This affects production decisions of farmers as they are most likely to produce commodities which are of high demand. 
  6. Production and marketing are often regarded as an integrated whole. This is due to the fact that an efficient marketing system ensures that agricultural inputs or resources are allocated efficiently. It means that farmers are most likely to shift resources from production of farm commodities having low demand and prices to the production of those commodities with high demand and prices. 
  7. Agricultural marketing provides employment for people who perform the different marketing functions such as assemblage, grading, transportation and others. 
  8. The need to improve the marketing of farm commodities creates incentives for government to development to develop infrastructure such as roads, water, storage facilities and others in rural areas to achieve market efficiency. 
  9. Marketing helps to stimulate research into the techniques of preserving agricultural products and the preparation of commodities to meet the different taste of consumers. 
  10. Agricultural marketing creates the multiplier effect in the economy for example, industries will develop to produce package materials for product and pee would be employed to be able to meet the demand. 
  11. The efficient marketing system ensures that products that are seasonal become available throughout the year with little price variation that can be attributed to the cost of storage function. 

 Agricultural Marketing Agents 

Agricultural marketing agents are the institution, organization individuals that carry out or perform marketing functions and offer marketing services. Agents involved in the marketing of farm commodities includes :
  • Marketing/Commodity boards
  • Cooperative societies 
  • Wholesalers 
  • Middlemen 
  • Retailers
  • Producers/Farmers/Manufacturers. 

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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Cells And Its Environment

Living cells are always surrounded by a watery environment. This may be the freshwater or salt water in which unicellular organisms live; or the intercellular fluid that bathes the body cells of higher animals.
Materials flow between the cell and its environment mainly by diffusion and osmosis. Let us see how these processes occur and how changes in its environment can affect the living cell.

Nature of Matter and States of Matter

Diffusion and osmosis are possible because of the nature of matter. We can define matter as anything that has mass and occupies space. It includes all the living and non-living things around us. 
   Matter is made up of tiny particles which may be molecules or ions. These particles are moving all the time. Matter can exist in three states: as a solid, a liquid and a gas. 
     In solid, the particles are closely packed with very little space between them. The forces of attraction between the particles are strong so that they cannot move around but vibrate in fixed positions. In a liquid, the particles are not so closely packed together. They can move around but they are still attracted to one another so that their movements are within a given space. In a gas, the particles move very fast. They are widely separated from one another and there is very little attraction between the them. Thus, the basic difference between the three states of matter is the degree of movement of their particles. 
  Any substance can exist as a solid, a liquid or a gas under the appropriate conditions of temperature and pressure. A familiar example of such a substance is water. A normal pressure (760 mmHg), pure water exists as the solid ice, below 0°C. On heating, the molecules in ice vibrate faster and break away from their fixed positions to move about, that is ice melt to form liquid water. Water exists as a liquid between 0°C and 100°C. On further heating, the molecules in water move about even faster, collide with one another, and eventually escape from the liquid to form water vapor (gas). We can reverse the above process by cooling water vapor.

Cells and Osmosis

A living cell is bound by a plasma membrane. This membrane is selectively permeable and allows water and certain solute molecules and ions pass through it. As a result, the plasma membrane regulates the movement of materials between the cell and its environment. In contrast, a semi-permeable membrane only allows water molecules to pass through it. 

Osmosis in animal cells : Animal cells contain mainly cytoplasm and cell organelles. In higher animals, the cells are bathed in intercellular fluid or plasma. The concentration of the solutes in these fluids is important for the well-being and functioning of the cells. 
   A living cell may find itself in any one of the following situations:
  • The fluid surrounding the cell is more concentrated than the inside of the cell. In the case, the surrounding fluid is said to be hypertomic to the contents of the cell. There is a net movement of water molecules out of the cell into the surrounding. This is known as exosmosis. It causes the cell to shrink. 
  • The fluid surrounding the cell is less concentrated than the inside of the cell. Here, the surrounding fluid is said to be hypotomic to the contents of the cell. There is a net movement of water molecules from the surrounding fluid into the cell. This is known as endosmosis. It causes the cell to swell, and eventually rupture. 
  • The surrounding fluid and the cell content have the same concentration. Hence, they are said to be isotomic. There is no net movement of water molecules in or out of the cell. 
   To survive and function well, the living cell and the fluid that bathes it must be isotonic or be able to maintain an osmotic balance. Endosmosis and exosmosis can lead to the eventual death of an animal.

Osmosis in plant cells : plant cells have cell membrane and cell walls. The cell wall is a tough and fairly elastic structure that is freely permeable to all molecules and ions. The cell membrane, however, is selectively permeable. 
Unlike an animal, most of the space in a plant cell is occupied by a large central backup that contains cell sap. It has a high concentration and tends to draw in water into the cell from the surroundings by osmosis.
      When endosmosis occurs, water flows into the vacuole of a plant cell, causing the cell to swell. The cell, however, does not rupture because, although the cell wall stretches to a certain extent, it is tough and does not break. It also prevents the cell membrane from expanding. A high pressure builds up inside the cell and makes it turgid.
    When exosmosis occurs, water flows out of the vacuole of the plant cell into the surroundings. As a result, the vacuole shrinks and eventually pulls the cytoplasm from the cell wall.
This process is known as plasmolysis.
        Turgidity is important in land plants. It make the plant form and gives support, especially to herbaceous plants. If plant cells are not turgid, the plant will wilt. The plant will easily recover if it supplied with water. However, if water is not supplied, the plant will die when all its cells becomes plasmolysed. 
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