MARKETING OF INDIGENOUS HERBAL MEDICINES IN EBONYI STATE, NIGERIA.

AUTHOR: NJOKU, AMOS (MSc)

DEPARTMENT: AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS

AFFILIATION: FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY OWERRI

              The broad objective of the study was to analyze the marketing of indigenous herbal medicines in Ebonyi State. The study covered rural and urban markets and trade fairs. In all, 96 respondents (operators) were randomly chosen and interviewed using a well-structured questionnaire. Among the operators were wholesalers.(including herbalists) retailers and consumers of herbal medicines.

              Data were analyzed using simple statistics such as frequency distribution.  Patronage ratio, Ginni coefficient, market share and Lorenz curve were used for market structure analysis. Systematically guided questions were used to assess market conduct.  Market performance was evaluated by the use of gross–margin analysis and marketing efficiency analysis.

                The results indicated that the herbal medicine market in the state has attained some level of organization as shown by the marketing channels. Product differentiation is insignificant. The prevailing market condition tends towards perfect competition . The only barrier to entry  was finance ( initial operating capital). But there was free entry and free exit in the market. There are no predatory or exclusionary tactics to dominate the market by few individuals or to discourage new entrants. There is no collusion in price fixing. Rather, market forces of demand and supply shape the market. So, competition is encouraged and enhanced. However, the market has performed poorly as indicated by a very high gross margins for both wholesalers and retailers, a high retail spread and a low farmer’s share for every one naira spent on herbal medicines The market appears exploitative because of too high net profit  which resulted in  an abnormally  high  marketing efficiency  percentage.

                  The problems identified with the market included, poor market information, inadequate credit facilities, inadequate marketing infrastructure and storage facilities, poor banking habit and seasonality of herbs. Some of the problems arose from an underdeveloped market economy and lack of incentive for investment in the sector. Recommendations were made in order to move herbal medicine market forward.These include the introduction of standards and measures, creation of public awareness and orientation towards greater use of herbal medicines, and proper supervision by NAFDAC  to check the sale of adulterated and fake herbal medicines, and to enforce standards and measures.

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