Middlemen (wholesalers and retailers) do encounter lots of problems in the course of the distribution of commodities in West Africa. These problems are:
- Inadequate infrastructural facilities: Facilities like telephone, electricity, etc. which can help to facilitate processing and marketing of goods are not adequate.
- Inadequate storage: This especially affects perishable products which come seasonally. During harvest, there is excess supply of these products; but there is scarcity as soon as the excess is over.
- Hoarding and speculation: The traders can create artificial scarcity for some commodities especially during festive periods such as Christmas and Ramadan. Artificial scarcity can also occur as a result of change in government policies. This disrupts the distributive process and increases price unnecessarily.
- Packaging problems: The packaging of goods is not standardised. This may result in damage or loss in transit.
- Inadequate transport system: The poor transport system also affects commodity distribution and marketing in the country. The roads are so bad that commodities sustain great damage due to accidents
- Long chain of distribution: There are so many middlemen. The numerous links along the chain of distribution make the price of commodities to increase considerably.
- Insecurity on our roads: Distribution is affected as a result of the activities of armed bandits on the roads.
- Inadequate information: The producers, sellers and buyers do not get adequate information regarding the prevailing market conditions.
- Administrative bottlenecks in the collection and handling of goods: Excessive delay in the supply and delivery of commodities is a common feature in the West African distribution system. Processing of necessary papers at supply points or depots causes considerable loss of time.
Economic Activities that can Improve Effective Distribution and Marketing of Commodities in West Africa
- Establishment of more market places: The establishment of more market places in rural areas will make commodities easily available for purchase.
- Encouragement of co-operative societies: The formation of co-operative societies should be encouraged as they help to buy commodities in bulk and sell to consumers at cheaper prices.
- Establishment of a national supply company: The establishment of a national supply company like the N.N.S.C will go a long way to stabilising prices and make goods readily available.
- Construction of roads: This will help to. move harvested products from the rural areas to urban centres.
- Provision of storage facilities: Provision of adequate storage facilities is necessary to prevent wastage and ensure that goods produced are not taken to the market at once.
- Reduction in the number of middlemen: Reducing the number of middlemen will go a long way toward reducing the prices of commodities.
- Establishment of marketing boards: Marketing boards should be established to handle the distribution of certain agricultural products
- Improvement in communication system: The communication system should be improved in order to provide adequate information about the market situations to buyers and sellers.